Palm Pilot – Boon Or Curse?

Palm-top computers or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) have found their way into innumerable coat pockets across the country, having replaced the revered authority of the paper based agendas and index cards. The Palm Corporation produces a number of Personal Digital Assistants, which run the Palm operating system. Palm pilot was the name given to the first two generations of PDA manufactured by Palm Computing in 1996; which was then a division of US Robotics, then of 3Com and finally a standalone corporation.

Palm Pilot was the brainchild of Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and Ed Colligan who were the founders of Palm Computing. The first machines were Palm Pilot 1000 (RAM size 128 K) and Palm Pilot 5000 (RAM size 512 K). Though provided with a serial port, they did not have infrared ports, backlights or flash memory. After the first two attempts, Palm Pilot Personal (RAM size 512 K) and Palm Pilot Professional (RAM size 1024 K) were introduced which had a backlight but no infrared ports or flash memory as yet. Meanwhile, Palm Computing, which was a subsidiary of 3Com, became upset on not having enough control over the palm pilot and founded Handspring in June 1998, which due to the efforts of Hawkins became the first Palm OS licensee.

Handspring later produced ‘Handspring Visor’, a clone of the Palm Pilot that included a hardware expansion slot. A standard feature of all Palm Pilots is to have 8 megabytes of memory and internal rechargeable batteries. Handspring merged with Palm to form palmOne in 2003. The whole idea of Palm Pilot had developed from Palm Computing’s original ambition to create a handwriting recognition software for other devices; a process which convinced them that they could create better hardware as well. Toy Robots Initiative and Manipulative Lab created the design of the Palm Pilot with the purpose of enabling just about anyone to start building and programming mobile robot at a modest cost.

In 1998, when Pilot Pen Corporation brought on a trademark infringement lawsuit, handheld devices from Palm venue as Palm Connected Organizers officially and as ‘Palms’ more commonly. However palm pilot had entered the vernacular as a synonym for PDA. The Palm Pilot is bestowed with many advantages. It is small enough to be carried during just about every waking moment, so that useful bits of information may have no need to find place in your already cluttered brain. Also, it is a fully functioning computer where the contents can be searched, as you want. Turn it into what you like – patient-tracking device, calculator, repository of information, built-in calendar, address book, to-do list, memo pad or almost anything else. What’s more? This five inches, six ounces Palm Pilot is an easy fit in any shirt pocket and runs for weeks on two AAA batteries.

However, theoretical drawbacks like “the Palm Pilot traces you wherever you are” has not stopped it from being an enormous success. The latest entry, the Palm VII brings us a step closer to the ‘Total Connectedness’ scenario of the future.

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