DOS Palmtop: How Tidalwave infected the world with their palmtops and noone noticed

Tidalwave - the company, the curse and more





So this is the story:


You can barely escape the name "Tidalwave" if you look deeper into DOS-based palmtops. The Magic of Tidalwave goes even deeper than the big list of DOS palmtops makes you think - the "Memorex clones" are actually also a Tidalwave design. I just call them "Memorex clones" to distinguish between These 2 very different designs. Before i get too deep into it let me clarify a few things. I often spell it "TidalWave" or "Tidalwave", but on the Chips and palmtop cases they spelt it "Tidalwave" though. If you dig deep enough in FCC and patent databases you will find the Name "Tidalwave Microtech Inc." and "Tidal Technologies Inc.". Also i constantly talk about "Tidalwave clones" when technically the word "clone" is incorrect as i refer to "branded items" or "OEM versions". However, i used the term "clone" so much and sometimes it was not completely clear, so i left it in all articles. But back to the topic. Tidalwave was a rather unknown manufacturer of chips and hardware. To make it even more mysterious - the FCC ID application was not filed by Tidalwave, but by Lite-On, the Company that makes cheap CD-ROM and DVD drives. Even today few Taiwanese companies are well known brands on the global market, the only exception being "Acer" and "HTC" even though there are thousands of electronics manufacturers in that country and some being pretty big. Tidalwave is no exception - their products, chips and periphals sold all over the world, millions were produced and used but few people know the name at all, even back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they were considerably big. There are some developments that changed the world of palmtops however - the "Palm Star 1000" (Usually known as PS-1000) which was based on another - even less known - product from Tidalwave, the "TM8886A" chip. The Internet won't supply any info on the mysterious TM8886A, but if you look at this chip and the few infos we have it is clear that this is a rather big chip which must have quite some functions. And if you look closer at the main board of a PS-1000 - which always feature this chip - you notice that it lacks the typical chips you would expect - Graphics, Memory controllers, IO controllers and so on. The explanation? If you ask me the TM8886A was a pretty early System-on-chip (minus the CPU). Including CGA, PCMCIA, IO and memory controllers. To prove my Point i can lead you to another mysterious chip from Tidalwave, the TM8100A. I have never seen a TM8100A, but the Manual/Documentation of the 8100A is mentioned and quoted in some power Management patents from Texas Instruments. The 8100A was supposed to be a "486 palmtop single chip". So all the Tidalwave clones were more interesting under the hood then most people would assume. But if you Keep digging for the TM8100A chip you might stumble on another mysterious Taiwanese Company called "Tidal Power". While the Name could be a co-incidence further Investigation Shows that they actually made the 8100 chip for a Company called "Eaton Corporation" in Ohio. They also made Chips for the NEC Mobile Gear Computers. And they made the notorious "Palmax" netbooks, actually kinda better Toshiba Libretto clone with faster processors and touch Screen. Palmax named "ComPal" as their parent company. "Made in Japan" is printed on the chip. but no clue by whom or where. Tidalwave was a Taiwanese Company, did they outsource chip production to some Japanese Company like NEC or so? Maybe they were rather made in Taiwan? We simply don't know. Tidalwave was pretty good at selling their PS-1000 platform to distributors world wide. ZEOS, Highscreen, Okano, Peacock, Master and many more would just resell these systems under their own brand with rather small branding done. And the curse? Most of these companies would go bankrupt a few years later. Seems it also hit Tidalwave themselves as they disappeared somewhere in the late 1990. Which is a shame since they were the once that made the DOS based palmtop so affordable that it really came to into the hands of normal people.




Generic Tidalwave box - few companies made the effort to manufacture a branded box.




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