Guest Author - Kathryn K Free
What exactly is a PDA? It is a ‘Personal Digital Assistant' in the most basic terms. The PDA has evolved since the Pilot was first unveiled in 1996. Palm Computing, a division of US Robotics, rolled out the first two generations of PDA's that became known as ‘PalmPilots.' A trademark infringement lawsuit by the Pilot Pen Corporation was filed against Palm Computing. The lawsuit stated that since 1998 they had handheld devices known as Palm Connected Organizers, or more commonly ‘Palms.' Regardless of the lawsuit ‘PalmPilot' and ‘PDA' have become a synonym.
The founders of Palm Computing were Jeff Hawkins, Donna Duinsky and Ed Colligan. Their original goal you will find was handwriting recognition software for other devices, named Graffiti. While writing their software it became evident that they could create better hardware.
Earliest Palms were the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000. No infrared port, backlight or flash memory were part of the first Palms. Shortly afterwards it was possible to upgrade these units to 1M of internal RAM. The succeeding phase of Palms came the ‘Palm Pilot Personal' and the ‘Palm Pilot Professional' which included a backlight but no infrared port or flash memory. These newer versions used the more advanced Palm OS version 2.
Shortly, Palm III, hit the market. ‘Pilot' had finally been removed from the official name due to the legal disputes. The infrared port and flash memory had also arrived with the Palm III. External applications were now stored in the flash memory so Palm III's came with 2 standard AAA batteries to ensure data retention during battery replacement.
Palm OS 3.1 became the standard for the following versions of Palm. * The Palm IIIx, with 4M of memory * Palm IIIe, without a flash memory or any expansion slot * Palm V, with 2M of memory * Palm Vx, with 8M of memory The market was beginning to see choices in the PDA arena.
Wireless connection became available with the Palm VIII. This connection was only available in the USA using the Palm OS 3.2 version. Color was introduced with the Palm IIIc model, using the Palm OS 3.5 version.
In 2000, Palm Computing formed Palm Incorporated. In 2003, Palm Incorporated merged with Handspring to form palmOne. This merger then split into two companies, palmOne for hardware and PalmSource for software. In 2005, palmOne acquired full rights to the Palm name by purchasing shared rights PalmSource owned and changed names to Palm, Inc. PalmSource was subsequently acquired by ACCESS Systems in 2005. In 2006, ACCESS Systems sold the Palm OS source code back to Palm Inc.
Advancements for the Palm Handhelds continue at a considerably more rapid pace. They are now beginning to merge with ‘smartphones.' Smartphones have the capability to email, SMS and instant messaging. The Treo 700w was the first Palm device to operate using the Windows Mobile instead of the Palm OS. The PDA-only devices seem to be disappearing from the market with the multi-functioning Palm handheld smartphones. Not only do smartphones bring more functionality, they too are becoming more affordable. Packages with MP3 players, cameras, Wi-Fi Bluetooth are some of the advanced options beginning to surface. In 2007, Palm released the Palm Centro. The Palm Centro smartphone, running Palm OS, took a step away from the Treo smartphones that were running Windows Mobile. The Palm Centro came with a reduced price tag, slimmer body and overall new appearance. In 2008 we saw features like GPS being added to the applications.
Currently the models that are available are:
Handhelds: Z22, Zire 72, Tungsten E2 and TX Treo
Smartphones: Treo Pro, Treo 800w, Treo 755p, Treo 750v, Treo 750, Treo 700p, Treo 700w, Treo 700wx, Treo 680
Nova: Palm Pre
Centro Smartphones: Palm Centro
The PDA's of the future will continue to be packaged in smartphones affordable to everyone. Technology has bridged the gap between personal use and corporate use. Applications are beginning to bridge this gap also, as they become more affordable and portable.