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PDA History

Yes, at one time, long before smartphones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) were a thing. It was a separate device that helped you control your schedule an contacts.

For a long time, one PDA dominated the market: The Pilot. It was released in 1996 and cost $299. It was ahead of its time, being small, affordable and easy to use. With the 1997 update it was renamed the PalmPilot, but then the name was shortened to just Palm after a lawsuit. As time went on a slew of competitors were released, with two main operating systems - PalmOS and PocketPC. In a nutshell, PocketPC was more “Windows-like” while PalmOS was a more stripped down “on the go” OS. Both systems had very loyal users.

Over time, PDAs became more sophisticated, as people could use them for stock market projections, excel spreadsheets and playing games. Battery life became a bigger issue.

You could learn and us graffiti on the Palm, or you could get a PDA with a more robust handwriting recognition system? Some had thumbpad keyboard included. There were options for most preferences.

As things progressed new features would be added like synching your information to your desktop or adding wireless capability. You could send and receive email and browse the Web with wifi or Bluetooth connectivity.

New phones like the Blackberry started to make PDAs less necessary, but then the bottom fell out of the market with the introduction of the iPhone and the following smartphone revolution. Over time, apps replaced all the functionality of PDAs.

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Palm’s progress: The rise, fall—and rebirth—of a legendary brand
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