by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 The first commercially successful hand-held computing device (Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA) was the Palm Pilot. It was a nice package that included a calendar, a contact list, notes, and other customized applications available in a stand-alone, mobile device. I started out with the Palm Pilot Professional and upgraded through a series of devices up to the Palm VII, which had built-in wireless communication for sending and receiving email.

The Palm Pilot built upon the less than successful experiences of the Psion and the Newton. It did not attempt to become a computer, as such, like the HP 200LX. With the introduction of the Trio line, the Palm entered into the realm of the smartphone, which will be dealt with in a later post..  GLB


“The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses.”
— Vladimir Lenin

“A first-rate Organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected.”
— Arnold Bennett

“Broadcasters are storytellers, newspapers are fact-gatherers and organizers of information and news magazines are kind of a hybrid of both.”
— Everette E. Dennis

“Ellington never graduated from high school, so when you speak about his success as a musician, his success as a businessman, his success as an organizer, the city was his tutor.”
— Ed Smith

“It was very last minute. The plan originally was to come early and play doubles and take it easy for the Open. When I was told I got the wild card I practically kissed (the organizer).”
— Meghann Shaughnessy

“I always considered myself being an organizer. I’m very good at teaching singers, I’m very good at staging a show, to entertain people. But I never included myself. I never applied this to me as an artist.”
— Ike Turner

“When I played Bobby Fischer, my opponent fought against organizations – the television producers and the match organizers. But he never fought against me personally. I lost to Bobby before the match because he was already stronger than I. He won normally.”
— Boris Spassky

“We still have every expectation that we’ll be invited (to host) in the future. We’re making sure everything runs smoothly, … The best way to ensure a return is to make sure the organizers have a great experience, whether or not people say ‘Yes, that was fantastic!’ or ‘Miami again?”
— David Whitaker

History of Hand-Held Computers: Palm Pilot

Palm pilot 5000_eu Palm handhelds are Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) which run the Palm OS. Palm devices have evolved from handhelds to smartphones which run Palm OS, WebOS and Windows Mobile. This page describes the range of Palm devices, from the first generation of Palm machines known as the Pilot through to the latest models currently produced by Palm, Inc including their new Palm Centro line of consumer smartphones.


Pilot was the name of the first generation of personal digital assistants manufactured by Palm Computing in 1996 (then a division of U.S. Robotics).

The first two generations of PDAs from Palm were referred to as “PalmPilots“. Due to a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by the Pilot Pen Corporation, since 1998 handheld devices from Palm have been known as Palm Connected Organizers or more commonly as “Palms”. “PalmPilot” has entered the vernacular as a synonym for PDAs, regardless of the brand.

Palm_Graffiti_gestures The inventors of the Pilot were Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky, and Ed Colligan, who founded Palm Computing. The original purpose of this company was to create handwriting recognition software for other devices, named Graffiti, but their research convinced them they could create better hardware as well. Before starting development of the Pilot, Hawkins is said to have carried a block of wood, the size of the potential Pilot, in his pocket for a week. Palm was widely perceived to have benefited from the notable if ill-fated earlier attempts to create a popular handheld computing platform by Go Corporation and Apple Computer.

The first Palms, the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000, had no infrared port, backlight, or flash memory, but did have a serial communications port. Their RAM size was 128 kB and 512 kB respectively, and they used version 1 of Palm OS. Later, it became possible to upgrade the Pilot 1000 or 5000’s internals to up to 1 MB of internal RAM. This was done with the purchase of an upgrade module sold by Palm, and the replacement of some internal hardware components. Originally, it was conceived that all Palm PDAs were to be hardware-upgradeable to an extent, but ultimately, this capability gave way to external memory slots and firmware-upgradeable flash memory after the Palm III series.

The next couple of Palms, called PalmPilot Personal and PalmPilot Professional, had a backlight, but still no infrared port or flash memory. Their RAM size was 512 kB and 1024 kB respectively. They used the more advanced version 2 of the Palm OS.

Palm IIIc-100_0275 Palm III, and all the following Palms, did not have the word “Pilot” in their name due to legal disputes. (“Pilot” was, and still is, a registered trademark for pens.) Palm III had an IR port, backlight, and flash memory. The latter allowed to upgrade Palm OS, or, with some external applications, to store programs or data in flash memory. It ran on two standard AAA batteries. It was able to retain enough energy for 10–15 minutes to prevent data erasure during battery replacement. It had 2 Megabytes of memory, large at the time, and used Palm OS 3. (Palm also produced an upgrade card for the Pilot series, which made them functionally equivalent to a Palm III.)

Meanwhile, with Palm Computing now a subsidiary of 3Com, the founders felt they had insufficient control over the development of the Palm product. As a result, they left 3Com and founded Handspring in June 1998. When they left Palm, Hawkins secured a license for the Palm OS for Handspring, and the company became the first Palm OS licensee. Handspring went on to produce the Handspring Visor, a clone of the Palm handhelds that included a hardware expansion slot (early Palm devices also had a hardware expansion slot, however this was for device upgrade purposes, not peripherals) and used slightly modified software.

My_T5 The next versions of Palm used Palm OS 3.1. These included Palm IIIx with 4 Megabytes of memory, Palm IIIe without flash memory or hardware expansion slot (and available for cheaper price), Palm V with 2 Megabytes of memory, and Palm Vx with 8 Megabytes of memory.

Palm VII had wireless connection to some Internet services, but this connection worked only within USA. It used Palm OS 3.2.

Palm IIIc was the first Palm handheld with color screen. It used Palm OS 3.5 which provided extensive tools for writing color applications.

Some of these newer handhelds, for example Palm V, used internal rechargeable batteries. Later this feature became standard for all Palms.

Palm handhelds initially ran on the popular DragonBall processors, a Motorola 68000 derivate. More recent models are using a variation of the popular ARM architecture (usually referred to by the Intel Xscale brand name). This is a class of RISC microprocessors that is widely used in mobile devices and embedded systems, and its design was influenced strongly by a popular 1970s/1980s CPU, the MOS Technology 6502.

Palm Computing was spun off into its own company (called Palm Incorporated) in 2000. Handspring later merged with Palm to form palmOne in 2003 when Palm Inc. split into companies based upon selling hardware (palmOne) and the software (PalmSource). In 2005, palmOne acquired the full rights to the Palm name by purchasing the shared rights PalmSource owned and changed names back to Palm again. PalmSource was acquired by ACCESS Systems in 2005, which subsequently sold the Palm OS source code back to Palm, Inc. in December, 2006.

Treo700p Palm handhelds continue to advance, including the ability to access hard drives on computers via USB cables, and are beginning to merge with smartphones. The “Treo 700w” is one of the latest offering that combines a Palm handheld with mobile phone, e-mail, SMS, and instant messaging. It is the first Palm device to use Windows Mobile instead of Palm OS. It is widely expected that Palm handhelds as a PDA-only device will disappear as multi-function Palm handhelds like the Treo 650 decline in price. Multi function devices include several different abilities in the same package such as: an MP3 player, a camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or several other options. The Treo 650+ series is a multi-functioning series, packing in a camera,MP3,Bluetooth,and a phone. The Zire 71 and 72 are examples of this also. In 2007 Palm released the Palm Centro, a consumer-oriented smartphone running the Palm OS. It took a step away from the familiar Treo smartphone by making it thinner and changing the overall appearance of it. The Centro is a very successful smartphone as it combines many features with a lower price. Since then, Palm has also released the Palm Treo 500v, a similar device to the Centro which is also directed at the consumer market. Palm’s newest offering, the “Foleo”, was cancelled before being publicly available.

Palm OS

Palm OS (also known as Garnet OS) is a mobile operating system initially developed by Palm, Inc. for personal digital assistants (PDAs) in 1996. Palm OS is designed for ease of use with a touchscreen-based graphical user interface. It is provided with a suite of basic applications for personal information management. Later versions of the OS have been extended to support smartphones. Several other licensees have manufactured devices powered by Palm OS.

Following Palm’s purchase of the Palm trademark, the currently licensed version from ACCESS was renamed Garnet OS. In 2007, ACCESS introduced the successor to Garnet OS, called Access Linux Platform and in 2009, the main licensee of Palm OS, Palm, Inc., switched from Palm OS to webOS for their forthcoming devices.

OS overview

Palm OS is a proprietary mobile operating system. Designed in 1996 for Palm Computing, Inc.’s new Pilot PDA, it has been implemented on a wide array of mobile devices, including smartphones, wrist watches, handheld gaming consoles, barcode readers and GPS devices.

Palm OS versions earlier than 5.0 run on Motorola/Freescale DragonBall processors. From version 5.0 onwards, Palm OS runs on ARM architecture-based processors.

The key features of the current Palm OS Garnet are:

  • Simple, single-tasking environment to allow launching of full screen applications with a basic, common GUI set
  • Monochrome or color screens with resolutions up to 480×320 pixel
  • Handwriting recognition input system called Graffiti 2
  • HotSync technology for data synchronization with desktop computers
  • Sound playback and record capabilities
  • Simple security model: Device can be locked by password, arbitrary application records can be made private
  • TCP/IP network access
  • Serial port/USB, Infrared, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections
  • Expansion memory card support
  • Defined standard data format for personal information management applications to store calendar, address, task and note entries, accessible by third-party applications.

Included with the OS is also a set of standard applications, with the most relevant ones for the four mentioned PIM operations.


For several years PalmSource had been attempting to create a modern successor for Palm OS 5 and have licensees implement it. Although PalmSource shipped Palm OS Cobalt 6.0 to licensees in January 2004, none adopted it for release devices. PalmSource made major improvements to Palm OS Cobalt with the release of Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 in September 2004 to please licensees, but even the new version did not lead to production devices.

In December 2004, PalmSource announced a new OS strategy. With the acquisition of the mobile phone software company China Mobilesoft, PalmSource planned to port Palm OS on top of a Linux kernel, while still offering both Palm OS Garnet and Palm OS Cobalt. This strategy was revised in June 2005, when still no device with Palm OS Cobalt was announced. PalmSource announced it was halting all development efforts on any product not directly related to its future Linux based platform.

With the acquisition of PalmSource by ACCESS, Palm OS for Linux was changed to become the ACCESS Linux Platform which was first announced in February 2006. The initial versions of the platform and software development kits for the ACCESS Linux Platform were officially released in February 2007. As of November 2007, the ACCESS Linux Platform has yet to ship on devices, however development kits exists and public demonstrations have been showcased. The first smartphone to use the Access Linux Platform is the Edelweiss device by Emblaze Mobile that is scheduled for mid 2009.

Palm, Inc. the main licensee of Palm OS Garnet did not license ACCESS Linux Platform for their own devices. Instead, Palm developed another Linux-based operating system called Palm webOS. On February 11, 2009 Palm CEO Ed Colligan said there would be no additional Palm OS devices (excepting the Centro being released to other carriers). Palm is focusing on Palm webOS and Windows Mobile devices. On April 1, 2009 Palm announced the availability of a Palm OS emulator for its webOS.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Palm PDA…

Wikipedia: Palm OS…

Think Exist: Organizer Quotes…