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Archive status updates

October 14, 2002
Hi folks! Back with some news after a LONG break! We are happy to announce the imminent release of the specifcation for IML 2.0. Imminent, as in next 24 hours. The previous release was IML 0.8. We have skipped IML 1.0 and have moved directly to IML 2.0. we expect to release a perl/Tk IMLI for IML 2.0 in the next few days. Keep the faith, and watch this space:-)

IML 2.0 is compact and expressive and we hope that the host of programmers waiting to develop "something" for the Simputer will have an exciting time developing browsers on a range of languages/platforms.

March 12, 2002
We have had several people asking us as to why the Trust has become dormant. This is to let interested readers know that the Trust is now awaiting with bated breath, the commercial forays of the two ventures that have been empowered with Simputer manufacturing licenses. To track the progress of the Simputer in the marketplace, please visit the websites of Encore Software Ltd. and PicoPeta Simputers Pvt. Ltd..

December 12th, 2001
IMLI 1.1 is released. Click here to download.

May 7th, 2001
The uploading of the downloadables has commenced. Look in Downloads, Simputer licensing links for newer material.

April 27, 2001
Ok, we all took a break for a day. Do you have a problem with that? :-) The details of the Simputer launch along with photographs should be up soon.

April 20, 2001
We have been overwhelmed by the flood of mails in the past few days offering us help, encouragement and best wishes as well as seeking commercial information. Our thanks for such positive sentiments and our apologies for not replying to individual mails. Some general clarifications:
On April 25th we will have about 10 Simputers with several demos. This is to indicate that the Simputer platform is ready for the next stage, namely, commercial manufacture and deployment.
Simputers will not be available in your neighborhood computer store on April 26th:-) Depending on which and how many companies take the Simputer license, it will be at least 3 more months before Simputers become commercially available.

April 12, 2001
Ok, it is unbelievable, but true: The Simputer launch date has indeed been finalized; April 25th. The venue will be JRD Tata Auditorium, National Institute for Advanced Studies, IISc Campus. Detailed program will soon be available.

April 4, 2001

The good news is that the Simputer Trust has resolved to have a public launch of the Simputer, no later than April 25th. More on this soon.
We now have four beta Simputers doing the demo rounds. The wait is now for new boxes that need to come out of the improved tooling.
A smart card driver is now up and running. We say 'A smart card driver' advisedly. The smart card business is so full of proprietary variations on the "international standards" that the driver needs to be modified for each type of card from each manufacturer (at least, that is our current understanding).
Power management is the next issue being addressed. As of now (with no attempt at power management) the three batteries (re-chargeable) last about two and half hours of continuous operation. Current efforts are aimed at moving to the 2.4 kernel and turn on all power management features.

March 15, 2001
Things are moving ahead. We now have a second prototype up and running (providing the induction step necessary to prove that countless Simputers can be made:-). The technical aspects of the Simputer were presented at the Bang!Linux Conference early this month. Several people had their first glimpse of the Simputer in action. And the technical presentation was made using IMLI, our IML browser, running on a Linux laptop. Some newer photographs and screen shots. We expect to have the formal launch of the Simputer to be in early April, no kidding:-)
We are continuing to work on several hardware/software issues: power management, reducing footprints of various libraries (currently the operation is quite slow due to space crunch), integrating the softmodem core into the kernel for higher speed operation (2400 baud works fine now), stabilizing the operation at 206 MHz, etc.

Ok, we are alive and kicking, and making progress as well. Just didn't have the bandwidth to write this note:-) The short version with photos is: Prototype Simputer is up and running inside the package!. The longer version is below:

  • The SA1111 problem: we haven't been able to solve it, nor has Intel been able to give us an answer one way or the other yet. instead of waiting for ever we did the following changes. The SA1111 was designed in to provide two functions on the simputer. First, drive the codec for the software modem and second provide USB master capability.

    Removing the SA1111 means that the first simputers will only have USB slave mode driven directly by the SA1110. We had to redesign the codec section to enable the software modem to work. These hardware changes required a new PCB to be fabricated. This has since been designed and tested.

  • X portrait mode was released by the X gurus recently. However, it was done only for color and greyscale. We have now modified tinyX to generate portrait mode for the simputer display. This code will be submitted to the X source tree soon. Let us know if you want it sooner.
  • The software modem is now working on the revised hardware at 2400 baud. It is expected to reach 14.4K very soon.
  • The modified audio driver and the touch screen driver have been integrated. So the simputer now plays MPEG audio through the headphone.
  • The FDM prototype box has been completed and all fitments tested. The tooling for the package is expected to be ready by the end of this month (January).
  • The smartcard circuitry had to be redesigned using the newer Philips chip, TDA8008. This modified PCB will be sent for fabrication early next week.
  • Text to speech algorithms have been substantially improved considerably and Tamil has been added to the Simputer's language set. Here are the new samples
  • Lots of progress on the Simputer General Public License. We now have Version 1 of the license. Comments on this to will be most welcome.

Why the long silence? we have been struck for a while with two problems. The first with the LCD panel. We changed over from a not-so-good panel to a good panel (Alps) for the beta board. Though the display specs are exactly the same, the display had weird problems which have finally been traced to problems with programming the LCD control registers of the SA1110.

The second problem still persists. We are working on it and any pointers will be appreciated.

We are revisiting the interface of the IML browser and IML itself based on comments from the Simputer mailing list as well as based on the need to make the interface more intuitive. A re-implementation of IMLI using perl/GTK is in progress.

7-Nov-2000: IML specifications and IML tutorial are finally released.

Please direct all the discussion to We hope that developers who have offered assistance to us in the recent past will try their hands on implementing an IML browser in their favourite language.

Our perl/Tk browser will be released shortly, once the known bugs are fixed.

Presentation at the "Technologies for the Future" session at the Two the photos of the Simputer prototype package shown during the presentation (with all pcbs and connectors and LCD panel loaded, without the electronics) can be seen here. ( Top view, Lateral view showing various connectors and with a smart card inserted.)   

Some of the samples generated by our text to speech system are available for your listening pleasure and for your comments. Kannada , Hindi and the Simputer story in Hindi (~1Mb). The files are raw audio files. Download and save.

To play the Kannada file on a Linux machine simply do "cat Kannada>/dev/dsp". The .wav format files for the above are Kannada , Hindi and the Simputer story (~2Mb) in Hindi.

This is a comprehensive current status report.


Hardware: The alpha version of the board with SA-1110, SA-1111, 2x16MB SDRAM, 16MB flash, UCB 1300, 320x240 LCD has been tested.
The PCB layout for the beta-board (the version that will fit in the prototype package) is ready to be shipped for fabrication.

Package: CAD modeling of the package is complete. The initial packages are being fabricated using Stereo Lithography. The first prototype with the PCB's, connectors and display was what was shown at the Digital Dividend conference.

Software: We are using the Intel Assabet board for initial testing and software development. The Simputer is nearly Assabet compatible (though there are some differences in memory map etc). Using Blob , linux (2.4-pre8) is now running on the alpha board. tinyX is also running in portrait mode (using the latest Rotation and Rescaling release). We are currently trying to get the touchscreen working.

Text to Speech: Good progress in Kannada/Hindi. We will put up samples shortly. Currently, programs to take speak out text in unicode is being looked at.

20-Oct-2000: Simputer was mentioned in an article on
This was related to the Simputer presence at the Digital Dividend conference at Seattle. The The Simputer presentation at the Idea Labs event of the Digital Dividends conference. This powerpoint presentation (~760K) has some audio samples of text to speech in Hindi and Kannada.

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