Meet the World’s One and Only 10″ E-ink E-reader – A51I was working on the post earlier and I came across a fascinating historical artifact. Every so often I like to post on an antique ebook reader, and today I can finally post about one that uses an E-ink screen.
This is a 10″ E-ink prototype that was developed in 2005 by Holly Gates, an engineer who was friends with the founders of E-ink and occasionally built custom devices for the company. This one is based on an A5 size screen that was developed for a Japanese customer (I’m told that it never hit the market).
Just to put this in perspective, this device was made at a time when the Sony Librie was the only E-ink ebook reader on the market and you could only buy that in Japan. The Sony Reader hadn’t even been announced yet, much less released.
Now, this device had a screen that could have been made in 2005, only there was no device maker who wanted to buy it. That’s why it never hit the market. The first company to decide to release a large screen ebook reader was Amazon, and they didn’t launch the Kindle DX until early 2009.
This design is built around a Gumstix single board computer with a 400MHz CPU. It has Bluetooth and an MMC card slot, but there’s no touchscreen or keyboard, unfortunately. The screen controller, power management, and a number of other components are built into a custom daughter board.
Note that this is not the 9.7″ screen that is used on the Kindle DX; this screen is larger. It also has a slightly higher resolution (1280×900) but about the same ppi (155). As you can see from the picture below, all the electronics and the battery are along one edge.
This is also a remarkably thin device and it’s probably a little heavier than the Kindle DX. Holly reinforced the screen with a sheet of titanium. Considering how fragile these screens are, that was probably a good idea. Do you see how the thicker part is where you’d hold it with your hand? That was a good design. It makes the ereader slightly easier to hold.Holly presented a paper on this device at the SID Display Week Conference in 2005. Oh, how I wish I had been there.