Originally, electronic devices such as radio transmitters, wireless communications systems, and the like, were base stations, operated at fixed locations, typically with large antenna towers. Widespread use of automobiles gave rise to smaller devices operating at 6 volts. In the 1950s, the transition to 12 volt automotive electrical systems gave rise to a large number of 12 volt devices, such as two-way radios, referred to as mobile rigs. A large industry, with companies such as Motorola (Motor-ola) sprung up to support the growing need for mobile devices, such as taxicab radios, police radios, and other 12 volt underdash equipment, as well as trunk mount systems. Today there are a wide variety of mobile computing platforms, including dash-mount VGA displays, and computers that can provide GPS and other navigation functions for automobile users.
In ham radio, there is a base-mobile-portable hierarchy, as follows:
Base station: fixed location, incorporated into a building or other architecture; Mobile: attached to or in a vehicle or used by a mobileer;
Portable: worn or carried. (The word "portable" derives from French "porter" = "to wear", but also includes handheld devices such as handie-talkies, walkie talkies, handheld computers, as well as wearable computers).
Blurring the boundary between mobile and portable
Around the early 1980s the boundary between "mobile" (vehicular) and "portable" (wearable or hand-held) computing platforms began to blur. This started with the so-called "bag phones" that had a cigarette lighter plug for automotive use, but were small enough to carry around for portable use. Thus there began a blurring in both use, as well as terminology, between mobile devices and portable devices. 12 volt mobile phones began to be used as portable phones, and similarly 12 volt portable computers, such as the Osborne, began to appear. These could be used in a vehicle, from the...