The Original DataPlex DataKeeper
In 1988, DataPlex startled the mobile computing market by introducing its DataKeeper, a then state-of-the-art personal computing device that featured a number of built-in modules: a world clock, tine billing and mileage logging for professionals, and an easy-to-use database manager. DataPlex stopped offering the DataKeeper commercially in 1998 but continues to support certain niche markets utilizing the DataKeeper because of its robustness and flexible architecture.
The Time Billing Tracker module was a huge success. It had single button timer activations and supported single button pausing and handling of interruptions. It had lists of user-definable Client and Project codes and optionally allowed users to make more specific notes for each entry. When the time billing information was downloaded to a PC, a DataPlex application produced billing reports for each client sorted by project and date. These reports could be printed and sent directly to a professional’s client or uploaded to a word processor for additional editing.
Although the database manager was designed to be a general purpose utility application, it quickly found its niche by being used by several customers to conduct surveys. DataPlex released a new module for the DataKeeper called Survey Manager with additional features for conducting surveys including where, at the end of the survey period, the survey information from each device would be downloaded to a central PC, consolidated, and summary reports produced.
In 1992, the Department of Public Works of the City of Burbank (Los Angeles County) because the first city agency to use a ruggedized version of the DataKeeper equipped with a new “Road Maintenance” module. City street information was uploaded to a series of DataKeepers and given to city workers to conduct real-time walking surveys of road and sidewalk conditions. The collected survey information was then used to schedule road and sideswalk repair. One city official said that the use of the DataKeeper improved the turnaround time for repairs by as much as 80%.
In the mid-1990’s, the DataKeeper received wireless communication capability where downloads of collected data could be accomplished without the need for cables and where survey information and votes could be monitored and analyzed in real-time. Around that time, several companies developed wireless ARS system packages specifically to handle surveys and votes in a localized region such as a meeting room or a conference hall.
The DataPlex DataKeeper had a novel design for a stepped power saving sequence that has been licensed to several Japanese firms. The stepped power sequence is now standard in all mobile computing devices: first power down or limit wireless communications when you can get away with it, then the CPU when there is no user activity, then the display for low-sleep mode, then the rest of the electronics for deep-sleep mode, then complete power-off (which occurred only rarely).
in 1994, a highly custom version of the DataPlex DataKeeper with motor control was created for artist George Stone’s “Man & Woman” art installation where two DataKeepers were used to memorize the four-dimensional movement of a shelf (3D space and time) and then play it back. In the artist’s studio, a male model stood on one platform and a female model stood on another platform while video cameras mounted on the shelves moved around the models in prescribed paths. Later, in the art installation, the video cameras were replaced by video monitors so, when the movement of the shelves was played back, viewers would be able to see on the monitors the previously taped portions of the male and female models, as though the monitors were windows onto the two models who were now invisible.