The Psion MC 400 Mobile Computer

This page contains the only known screenshots from a Psion MC 400 mobile computer.

In 1989, the hand held computer pioneer Psion - a small British company, unveiled the MC 400 laptop computer. The MC 400 featured a multitasking graphical operating system, instant suspend and resume, a built in suite of applications, a touchpad and a battery life of 60 hours. This at a time when most PC's were running MS-DOS, and Microsoft Windows was still at version 2.

The MC 400 featured a built in programming language called OPL (organiser programming language) that had been inherited from the Psion Organiser. Unfortunately it was a text only language at that time, featuring no graphics commands. This limitation, coupled with the absence of any other software development kit meant that no third party software was developed for the MC 400. This was one of the major contributors to its lack of success, with reportedly only around 900 units ever being sold.

In 2010 the MC 400 was named by Time magazine as one of the all time top 5 gadgets ahead of their time.

This is the default screen after powering up for the first time. Once up and running the MC 400 featured instant suspend and resume at the touch of a button.

Multitasking OS. Five applications running at the same time (three windowed, two minimized).

The MC 400 had just 256kb of memory for running the OS and apps - and for storing files! For extra file storage one had to purchase expensive proprietary SSD's (solid state disks).

The MC 400 terminal emulator transferring a file to the PC.

Though only partly WYSIWYG, the MC 400 word processor was as full featured as any PC equivalent at the time.

Dialog box, MC 400 style.

The MC 400 featured a fairly comprehensive Diary application.

The MC 400 file manager.

Online help.

The spreadsheet was not part of the included application suite and had to be purchased separately. It was the only additional application ever released for the MC 400 (by Psion itself). This can be explained by the fact that no software development kit was ever released to would be developers.

The MC 400 also had a feature rich text editor for writing OPL programs and for general text editing.

Psion promotion from 1989

The MC 400 had no hard or floppy drives, all storage was solid state flash and ram. There were 4 solid state disk drives for application software and user data. This at a time when many PC's and Mac's were still using 5.25 inch floppy disks!

The MC 400 was probably the first computer to feature a built-in touch-pad and hot-swappable batteries.

The MC 400 with PC and printer from the promotional brochure of 1989. A Psion Organiser, the predecessor to the MC 400 is also shown.

The MC 400 even made it into the movies for 2 or 3 seconds! The actress Bonnie Bedelia can be seen picking up a closed MC 400 and placing it in her bag in the 1990 film Die Hard 2.

A Psion Organiser. The predecessor of the MC 400.