I first started traveling internationally on business as a young engineer in the mid-1980s. At that time, I was giving training courses on digital logic simulation. In addition to various European and Scandinavian countries (France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden), I also visited America, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
As an aside, these days when I’m giving a guest lecture at a university—like the talk I gave about six weeks ago at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway (see All Change!)—I always tell the students to practice their communication skills. I have friends who are awesome engineers but who never get to go anywhere because they aren’t comfortable writing papers, creating presentations, and talking to people. By comparison, I’ve travelled the world with someone else paying the bills, which really is the best way to do things in my humble opinion, but we digress…
When I first started my travels, I didn’t need an international adapter (power plug) because I didn’t have anything I needed to power. Laptop computer? Don’t make me laugh! You have to remember that the first commercially successful “portable” computer, the Osborne 1, which was released in 1981, weighed in at 24.5 lb (11.1 kg). About the size and weight of a sewing machine and described as being “a cross between a World War II field radio and a shrunken instrument panel of a DC-3,” the Osborne 1 was used primarily to run software like word processors and spreadsheets, assuming you could work on its tiny 5-inch (13 cm) display screen.
Things weren’t much better by the mid-1980s, when machines like the IBM Portable Personal Computer 5155 model 68 made their appearance. Weighing in at a ligament-straining 30 lb (13.6 kg), this little scamp cost an eye-watering $4,225 in 1984 (equivalent to ~$11,000 in 2021) but, once again, we digress.
By around 1995, the company with which I was working did provide me with a laptop computer for use while travelling. In turn, this meant I needed an international adapter. At that time, all I required was something that would let me power my computer. Having a USB port on the adapter wasn’t an option because USB wasn’t actually introduced until 1996.
Since that time, my need for power has grown, as a result of which I’ve ended up procuring some mind-boggling adapters. Some were reminiscent of those puzzle boxes where you are obliged to move various parts in a complicated sequence in order to achieve the prize (powering your computer, in this case). I recall one device that bore many similarities to a Rubik’s Cube, the main resemblance being that—like a Rubik’s Cube—I never managed to solve it.
I remember when I first saw an international power adapter that also included a single USB A port. “That’s a great idea,” I thought, and I immediately grabbed it, but it wasn’t long before I was wishing it had come with two such ports.
These days I travel with an array of devices that need to be powered, including my notepad computer, my iPad Pro, my smartphone, and a variety of other USB-powered gadgets and gizmos. Since the transition to USB C is now in full swing, I’ve recently been travelling with a combination of next-generation and legacy adapters, but this has been starting to wear on me.
All of which leads me to a recent acquisition in the form of the awesome OneWorld 65, which I think of as “One adapter to rule them all” and which I call “My Precious!”
Based on GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology (see I’ve Been Captivated by Compound Semiconductors), this bodacious beauty is so easy to use that even I can work it out. The three sliders on the side make things easy-peasy to configure the OneWorld to plug into wall sockets in more than 200 countries, including Australia (China, New Zealand…), Europe (Germany, France…), North America, the United Kingdom, and myriad others (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore…).
In addition to its main 10A universal power outlet, the OneWorld 65 boasts 2X USB A ports, 2X USB C ports, and 1X 65W USB PD charging port with QC, all of which means you can use the OneWorld 65 to charge six devices simultaneously!
“What are PD and QC?” you ask? Well, USB-C Power Delivery (PD) is a fast-charge technology that delivers much higher levels of power than standard charging techniques. PD is supported by some iOS/Apple and Android/Google/Samsung devices. Meanwhile, Qualcomm Quick Charge (QC) is a different type of fast-charge technology that’s supported by some of the older Samsung devices.
All I can say is that I will be bequeathing my motley collection of legacy travel adapters to my son, because the OneWorld 65 is all I now need. I only wish I’d had this little beauty on my recent trip to Norway, but all is not lost because, between trips, I’m using it at home to replace a salmagundi of wall wart power adaptors.
Thinking about it, I really should get another OneWorld 65 for my wife (Gina the Gorgeous), which I will doubtless be doing as soon as she casts her orbs over this blog. In the meantime, do you have any international power adapter tales you’d care to share with the rest of us?