Pretty soon though, we were chatting in (e.g. Philosophy of Architecture) class when we weren't playing faux-tetris or some of the other games on there. We had a number of funny conversations that I wish I had saved somehow. A lot of them revolved around our nutty professors, one of whom had started a habit of eating out of a bag of chips while he started his lectures. "crunch crunch crunch so...what is a dwelling?"
At the time I also had an HP Jornada PDA which had some incredible features and a bright color screen, internet connection, etc. but was practically useless for chatting in this way, because there's no way I could have afforded a PDA for my wife. In fact, just comparing Cybiko with the Jornada, pretty much everything except for reading e-books and jotting quick memos was a waste of time on the Jornada. So it's amazing considering the price and hardware differences and how much I was using the Cybiko.
I eventually loaded mine up with just about every app or game I could fit, and combined with my Sony Minidisc player my bathroom sessions at the university library went from like 6/10 (nice bathrooms) to 11/10 (nice bathrooms, ripped Internet radio music, ripoff arcade games).
One of my professors once asked if anyone in class had a timer he could borrow, and when I handed him the Cybiko with the antenna still up, he kind of grabbed the antenna and folded it toward the screen like it was a stylus or something, then started to laugh with the class as it became clear this was the extreme definition of a gadget. One look at the screen, antenna, and all the buttons and most people would say, "what is that thing?"
Finally on my graduation day I was chatting with my wife so much that after receiving my diploma I got mixed up and walked right back into the procession line instead of exiting stage rear. I almost went through twice, and ended up hiding behind a curtain slightly off-stage until the ceremony was over. Texting the whole time, and as my wife explained to my mom what was going on we were all cracking up. lol.
It used an H8 microprocessor which was really rather nice. Tight code and interesting to write assembly for, and the gcc port was decent.
The hardware was interesting if useless; there was a not-quite-proprietary wireless protocol (it was an off-the-shelf low-speed wireless module), a small and primitive LCD, the world's most terrible keyboard (it was genuinely painful to type on), but a decent battery life.
The Prex port is probably useless, but it does come with a Linux tool to upload programs via the Cybiko boot loader, if anyone's interested: http://cowlark.com/cybiko/
It was last updated in about 2009 when the author vanished off the internets. A few people were using it and tried to keep it going but the community never gelled around it.
This thing was the first MP3 player I ever used, the first handheld organizer I ever used (though dad had a Newton), and the first time I ever really felt like I was using a futuristic tool. The thing could have been awesome.
The one thing I will always remember was that when I was buying it (dad bought it for me for my birthday)—he stopped me and said 'Are you sure you want this? I can get you this or a Palm Pilot'. Without hesitation, I went with the Cybiko. A year later I regretted it so much, but looking back at it now—the Cybiko was awesome and I made the right decision.
IIRC the SDK consisted of a (limited) C compiler that produced bytecode that the Cybiko ran in a virtual machine. The VM was intended to future-proof the device in case they decided to switch CPU architectures somewhere down the line. A little over-engineered, given its eventual fate.
We got hold of the source code for the Cybiko's web browser because we wanted to do something similar. A PC ran a server component and did all of the hard work interacting with the internet and parsing HTML, while the Cybiko ran a client that connected to the PC over its RF hardware. In the end we didn't get very far - it was my first C project, the SDK wasn't great, and the browser source was written in Russian.
I still have two unopened Xtremes somewhere.
Nobody would remember it but I authored a few different things I was quite proud of:
- Cybihacker, a Cybiko game that was a very poor RPG game where you're hacking into corporate servers to pay off a debt to the mafia.
- CyX (a custom desktop application)
- SUI (a command line interface)
That was back in the days when my username everywhere was "Compman" – how original. How did I have time to do all of that in school? Wow.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
EDIT: Whoa. It looks like you can still download Cybihacker and the unfinished demo of the sequel:
I found an archived yahoo groups posting about it, I think most other information was on geocities.
I had one of these in high school; won it off of some contest or promo. We'd use it during our large school assemblies to chat with each other across the gym instead of paying attention lol
* Curious cross-referencing and examination of results *
Wow. The situation looks pretty interesting. there are a few options.
First of all there's C4PC, a Windows-.exe-only emulator from 2001:
A little more recently (2013!), some people have been trying to get support into MAME for the platform, but there's a lot of static in the signal-to-noise ratio on quality info and leads right now, and very little focused/directed interest on making it work right.
Here's a basic overview that might prove handy: https://web.archive.org/web/20091216030346/http://www.dbzoo....
This page explains how to take MAME apart and put it back together again (:P) to make everything work... sorta: http://mametesters.org/view.php?id=5151
Here's an old reference about the structure of the SDK along with some downloads: http://www.piclist.com/techref/cybiko/sdkpro.htm
Since the most recent work was done only a couple of years ago, you should be able to tinker without the sanest starting step being booting up Debian 4 in a VM :P so getting started with this looks quite involved but not insanely impossible.
The built-in rechargable NiMH batteries in the Cybiko Extreme's are natoriously bad. Mine were very old new-in-box stock when I got them and already had a short life-span. They can sometimes be kicked back to life with a voltage spike. Disconnect the battiery and hit it with a 12V supply (or higher) at a couple amps of current and it will break-up the crystals that form in the battery. Do that for a few minutes. If it works the batteries will immediately start taking a charge again. However after a few months the crystals will reform and you are back to square one. I finally just put a four cell AA battery pack on the back of mine and wired it into the unit.
Hmm, decisions. Do I open them up and see if they work, or so I stick them on eBay?
new $75+ Cybiko Xtreme:
It was controlled by its own little AVR microcontroller that handles the low level protocol. It wasn't fast --- 19.2 kbps.