A ZipIt! is a small handheld device that was marketted to teens and pre-teens as a way for them to keep in touch via services like AIM, MSN-Messenger, etc. without requiring a full-powered computer or laptop. The ZipIt! was a handheld ‘clamshell’ device with a small monochrome screen, small keyboard, and a built-in WiFi card. It was ‘hardwired’ to just run its own special software and from the point of view of a hardware / software hacker geek, it was very interesting.
It turned out that the ZipIt! used fairly standard hardware components, and the custom software was running on a Linux operating system! And then the hacking began in earnest.
When I got my hands on a ZipIt! or three, I had hours of fun taking them apart, poking at their brains, reprogramming them, making them do wierd and interesting things.
Update: Well the ZipServe had a good run. December 2005 – October 2010. Nearly 5 solid years. It still works too – It’s just that I’ve finally upgraded my wireless network (it’s all 802.11n and fast and stuff) and the Zipit, with it’s antique 802.11b wifi, and the old kernel in there can’t handle WPA and all that jazz… so yeah. The ZipServe still works but it doesn’t connect to my network any more.