Dusting off my Sony Vaio U1


Years ago, my dad gave me his Sony Vaio PCG-U1 – one of the smallest laptops around. It had an 867MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, 256MB memory, a 1024×768 pixel screen that measured only 6.4” diagonally, and a total weight of 820 grams with the regular battery. It used 30W per hour. It was tiny. It turned heads at computer conferences and at cafes. I even managed to sell advertising on it during one of my experiments.

The screen was small, but I managed to write a lot of code on it anyway. The two-handed mouse and scroll-switch even made it easy to use while walking around. I used it so much that the keyboard showed obvious wear and the mouse cap was completely worn away. I have a lot of memories bound up in this little device. It was quirky-fun. It had personality beyond that of my Fujitsu Lifebook, my later Eee netbook, or even my current X220 tablet.

During the Labour Day weekend, W- dusted off the PCG-U1 and worked on restoring it. He removed all the keycaps, brushed all the debris out, and painstakingly rearranged the silicone domes under keys until the regular keyboard worked again. He’s so awesome.

I don’t know what we’re going to do with it yet, but we’ll keep it around instead of donating or recycling it. I thought about just keeping a picture of it, but there’s something about picking it up and holding it that a picture just doesn’t communicate. It’s so cute!


  • Picture frame
  • Dashboard
  • Flashcards
  • Cooking recipes
  • Portable notetaking device when a tablet is overkill and a smartphone isn’t enough; say, if I want to use Emacs or speech synthesis

Ah, technology…

  • I remember that summer when we sold advertising space on it for BarCampEarth!

    I have a similar dilemma with my old Asus EeePC 2G Surf that’s sitting in the corner collecting dust.
    I have an Macbook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone, so any function it might have served in the past has been completely displaced by any of these devices. It was relatively cheap, so maybe I feel that I had a good run with it, but it’s ultimately disposable technology (I don’t like that). However, it would be nice to breathe new life into it. Not quite sure now though…

    I wouldn’t mind selling/donating it either, so if you know anyone who may be interested, let me know!