Archive for June, 2001
Hotpaper’s technology was incorporated into the new owners’ product line. The new product is called Mobile Office. One of the features of Mobile Office gives users the ability to perform sophisticated document assembly on a Palm or Blackberry PDA. To my knowledge Hotpaper invented and was the first to reduce to practice document assembly solutions for mobile devices.
I created the first prototype for mobile document assembly in about 1998 when I attached with Velcro hook and loop fasterner material a Ricochet Internet service radio to the bottom of my Palm III non wireless Portable Digital Assistant. I used the HandWeb web browser to access a stripped down website document assembly website I built. I used Microsoft Word ’97 running on the web server for core document assembly functionality. Word mail merge fields are very powerful. If/then/else blocks may be nested 10 levels deep, for example.
My prototype worked fine and was reliable, but it was painfully slow.
The Ricochet wireless data network my radio could connect to operated at best at 28K, but I suspect it was more like 9.6K on a normal day. I demonstrated the handheld assemblage to my friend Jerry Engel, the Executive Director at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. His office is in a huge concrete and steel building, so the network was even slower than normal, but when I stepped into the hallway it worked, and I was able to draft a nicely formatted Microsoft Word document with embedded graphics and email it to Engel, all wirelessly. I recall he was impressed. Not long thereafter, Engel joined the board of advisors for Hotpaper.
I relate this early history to show how long I’ve been fascinated with mobile productivity solutions.
I am proud that an idea I conceived of years ago is now a polished commericial product sold by a noteworthy public company that’s a leader in wireless connectivity solutions.
I am particularly proud that today both CNET and PC Expo have voted Mobile Office the Best Business Solution of 2001. Here’s a screen shot of the press release, to guard against the story being deleted in the future.
Mobile Office has a lot of features, and my technology is only part of the overall offering. But I think it’s fair to say that Mobile Office would not have won this award if not for my technology, because my technology is the unique feature that makes you take notice — being able to complete richly formatted Word documents pages in length using a small handheld device like the Blackberry. To my knowledge, there is no competing service in the world today.
I wrote this article June 28, 2011, ten years after the date that appears on this article.
I wrote this article to commemorate what was big news for me in 2001. To learn more about my sale of Hotpaper to GoAmerica, please read Hotpaper, my first Internet company gets acquired, published in 2011.
I hadn’t thought much about the CNET win until June 27, 2011 when I was telling my friend Kevin Casey about the history of Hotpaper. I didn’t notice today marks the 10 year anniversary of the CNET win announcement until I was nearly finished writing the article. What an astounding coincidence.
Thank you to GoAmerica’s Joe Korb for suggesting to me late one night in May 2000 that GoAmerica acquire Hotpaper.
GoAmerica is still in business but is now known as Purple Communications. Purple is a leading provider of communications services to people with hearing disabilities.