The DevTerm is a new portable computer with a very old aesthetic. Designed to look like an old school portable terminal, this modular, open source computer features a 6.8 inch, 1280 x 480 pixel IPS display, a keyboard, and battery module plus an optional built-in thermal printer.

Under the hood is a ClockworkPi v3.14 mainboard with a slot for a computer-on-a-module. So far the system is designed to support five different modules, with specs ranging from 1GB of RAM and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor to 4GB of RAM and a hexa-core chip with Cortex-A72 and Cortex-A53 cores. But more could be added in the future.

The DevTerm is up for pre-order for $219 and up, with the most affordable model powered by a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, while other versions feature custom modules from ClockWork.

The company expects to begin shipping the DevTerm to customers in July.

If ClockWork sounds familiar, that’s because this is the same company that makes the GameShell handheld game console I tested a few years ago. While that system was designed for gaming and this new device is more of a productivity/programming machine, the basic idea is similar: open hardware with a modular design.

The company has published schematics and design materials at the GitHub page for the project under a GPL v3 license.

In addition to the compute module, the mainboard features USB-A, USB-C, micro HDMI, and 3.5mm audio ports, GPIO pins, and connectors for the screen, keyboard, and battery as well as a connector an “Ext. Module” board that features speakers, a fan interface, camera interface, and additional ports.

Theoretically a DIY or third-party board could also add features like cellular modems, or sensors. And ClockworkPi says it’s also evaluating additional CPU architectures, so it’s possible that you may eventually be able to use compute modules with RISC-V, x86, or FPGA+ARM architecture with the DevTerm.

The DevTerm’s keyboard features 67 keys with a mini trackball (instead of a touchpad) in the top row and three mouse click buttons below the space bar. With X,Y,B, and A buttons on the right side, and direction arrows on the left, the DevTerm could also be used for some retro gaming.


The original plan had been to begin shipping in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on production, which has caused the ship date to slip by a few months. Now the developers say customers should begin receiving their DevTerm hardware by mid-July.

The good news is that production seems to be underway, as the founder of ClockworkPi recently posted a set of images showing a fully assembled and functional DevTerm.

You can find more details at the ClockworkPi DevTerm web page, or pre-order from the ClockworkPi Shop.

va @Hal_clockwork, and thanks for the tip Jonathan!

This article was originally published Nov 20, 2020 and last updated June 14, 2021. 

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18 replies on “DevTerm is an open source portable terminal with modular (and retro) design”

  1. Exquisite retro angle and extremely ideal to have process module as opposed to having a nonremovable CPU/figure. On the opposite side, I speculate 2×1680 batteries limit could just conveyance little battery life, more terrible with more ravenous register modules

  2. I think that is neat. It reminds me of a Tandy computer that was made many years ago that was very similar to this one.

  3. I love this entire category of tiny, inexpensive general purpose portable computing devices. They slot in nicely under the GPD line of mini laptops in price and performance. The only problem is that hardly anyone is prepared to take money and ship a product from inventory. If you go to their store, they have only pre-order and out-of-stock. Popcorn’s Pocket PC is the same. I ordered a Pinephone with intent to order a keyboard later from Pine64, since they seem closest to being a business prepared to exchange goods for money, but they’re also taking orders and holding them to ship in waves each month. The Next Thing Co PocketCHIP fiasco of waiting months and watching shipping promises slide, then backing their Dashbot only to then spend a year watching them design the product from scratch, and fold, has me wanting to see a company have merch they’re putting in customer’s hands before reaching for my credit card.

  4. Exactly what does it do?

    I know most of you will take it to work and everyone there will pretend they think it is cool, but what can you actually do with it?

    1. Basically nothing. It’s a standard underpowered Linux computer and the only benefit to this is the unusual case’s cosmetic value. Basically all the efforts I’ve seen at doing stuff like this don’t produce any advantage over the traditional laptop or phone form factors, and if you want something like that with open hardware and software, Pine64 already has the useful shapes covered.

    2. Rich Mac users seem to be a bit lost… they are no longer the coolest guys.

    3. I could imagine there might be a few very specific people, and they’d know who they are better than I would, who could get a lot of use out of it. Most typically I’d expect they’d be programming or debugging machinery controlled by these SBCs in unusual locations. Perhaps on a budget.
      …Though I’m not going to pretend that it’s more useful as is than it would be if it was more laptop shaped but otherwise the same internally.

  5. Looks like my TRS-80 model 100. I’ll have to check to see if it still works. Did a few years ago. Has an advanced rom.

  6. As someone who cut their teeth on a trs-80 model 100 I’m excited to see this. Its a dead ringer for the NEC variant originally developed by Kyocera.

  7. Reminds me if that TRS-80 Model 100 I wanted as a kid, but could not afford back then. I’m definitely getting one but after it ships 🙂

  8. Lovely retro aspect and very nice to have compute module instead of having a non removable CPU/compute.

    On other side I suspect 2×1680 batteries capacity could only delivery small battery life, worse with more hungry compute modules.

    1. Consider the numbers, then, David.

      18650s are found everywhere. They are swappable. They deliver 2500-3000mAh at 3.7v nominal.
      DevTerm thus offers 5000-6000mAh, or 18.5-22.2 watt-hours.driving compute module equivalent to a low-end phone-SoC. That’s around double what these midrange phones offer.

      It’s unlikely the software+OS will be geared towards auto-power-saving, but the device is intended to be used, or put to sleep, and a pair of 18650s will get you 20 hours at 1 watt, 7 hours at 3 watts. If you run low, pop-in a freshly charged pair.

    1. Appropriate username!

      I like the Ultrawide display they have in this thing, though I bet it adds to the price a lot. Shame that form factor isn’t available at circa 15 inches.

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