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Thread: The Palm Pilot Turns 20

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    Post The Palm Pilot Turns 20

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    An old friend popped up in my news feeds over the weekend; gadget nostalgia site Retromobe did a nice little write-up of the original Palm Pilot PDA. The first two models, the 1000 (with 128kb of RAM) and 5000 (512kb of RAM), first went on sale in March of 1996. I remember it like yesterday, because I was there.

    Unfortunately I was using an Apple Newton at the time—only because a local shop had a bunch of them returned en masse and were reselling them on the cheap. My first Palm would be the next iteration, the backlit Palm Pilot Personal. I would quickly come to depend on its 160 x 160 monochrome display; its utility set the stage for the PDA phones that followed.

    Famously modeled on a block of wood that inventor Jeff Hawkins carried around in his chest pocket, the Palm Pilot was much more portable than the clunky Newton. Text input was orders of magnitude better as well; though Research in Motion launched its qwerty-powered [email protected] Pager that same year, for touch input Palm's Graffiti couldn't be beat.

    Included software on every Palm Pilot would come to be known as the four pillars of personal information management—calendar, contacts, notes and tasks. A third-party app, DateBk3, gave the user their calendar and tasks on the same screen. Other third-party software extended Palm's utility even further; among the best was AvantGo, which piggybacked onto a sync session with a personal computer to suck down news headlines and such for easy reading anywhere the user happened to be.

    For me, Palm OS peaked on board one of my favourite smartphones of all time, The Handspring Treo 270. But my favourite memory of my first Palm is this: I was invited to represent PDAs in a debate versus paper-based organizers on a local radio station. At the end of it the host issued a challenge to see who could find their dentist's phone number first. Much to the delight of my dental practitioner, I was already rattling off his contact info on-air while the other guest was still processing the question.

    Sources: Retromobe, iMore, Pimlico Software, Palm Infocenter, My Phone Book
    My mobile memoirs — free ebook available here.
    My HoFo feedback... is that still a thing?

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    My last PalmOS device was a Sony CLIÉ. I tend think that's where PalmOS peaked. Designs were interesting. Is it wrong to want a modern NZ70 form Android device?

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    I vaguely remember those... did the NZ70 look something like this?

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    Wow. I still have Palm V (running Big Clock as alarm clock. battery still hold charge).
    And Treo 650....
    Great device !!

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    The Palm Pilot was a great, revolutionary device, but unfortunately had horrific battery life, barely able to last through a day. Hmmm, that sorta sounds familiar. I got pretty good at being able to write using the stylus and the unique way one had to learn to draw letters. I remember it fondly.

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    "Unfortunately I was using an Apple Newton" and "clunky"... Them's fightin words!
    Seriously, I don't think you ever used a MessagePad 2000 or 2100.

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    Still have my Treo680 & Treo Pro





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    Quote Originally Posted by Calculon View Post
    Seriously, I don't think you ever used a MessagePad 2000 or 2100.
    Heh, you're probably right... If memory serves I believe my Newton was the 120.

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    I miss PalmOS. It's PIM stuff is still VASTLY superior to anyone else's, and it's ability to seamlessly exit and come back to programs in the exact same state is ALSO still VASTLY superior to anyone else.

    While they can do more, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android aren't even close on those basics.

    Graffiti 1 was also vastly superior to having to use a virtual keyboard.

    *sigh*

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggore View Post
    The Palm Pilot was a great, revolutionary device, but unfortunately had horrific battery life, barely able to last through a day. Hmmm, that sorta sounds familiar. I got pretty good at being able to write using the stylus and the unique way one had to learn to draw letters. I remember it fondly.
    Hmm. I bought a Pilot (1000) three months after they were introduced (took that long for the retailer to get enough stock to outlast the line of people waiting each month for the US Robotics box to be taken off the truck). It took two garden-variety AAA batteries which lasted for several weeks IIRC. Now, the later Palms, with rechargeable batteries, those didn't last weeks at a time. But I certainly got through at least a day with mine with heavy use; parking it on its sync stand/charger helped.

    I had the 1000, bought the 5000 upgrade module, then got an IBM WorkPad (black cabinet badge-engineered version), a Vx, two Sony CLIEs, and then a Tungsten C. Loved 'em all and they set the standard for PIM software on my iPhone.

    Twenty years! Hard to believe....

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    Fifteen years ago, dedicated aviation GPS devices were in their infancy and very expensive. I was using a Palm Pilot coupled with a GPS receiver in my plane and it worked great, cost a lot less too.

    Attachment 138938

    Attachment 138939

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    I carried my Palm Pilot just to play chess even when I started carrying a smart phone until I purchased a Kindle. The Palm Pilot fit in my shirt pocket.

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    The company and department that I used to work for gave me a Palm III since I had to support it. When I transferred to another department, I had to return it but got so used to the syncing with Outlook/agenda and the contacts, that I wanted another PalmOS device to call my own. I found the Palm V to be too expensive for my taste so I went with the Handspring Visor. From the Handspring Visor, I went to the Handspring Visor Prim with Visorphone attachment then Handspring Treo 600 and then went to the Palm Treo 650 and the Treo 680. They were great devices.

    I still have my Palm 650 and Palm 680 but the batteries are dead... the devices still work when plugged into the charger. I don't use them much except to play some of the games that I purchased.
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    Thanks for taking me down the nostalgic road of Palm. Still remember my Palm Pilot Personal fondly, and the others (Palm III, Palm V) afterward. I wish Graffiti is still alive now .. I found that a very accurate way to input text.

    Anyway, hope owners out there had just as much fond memories as I did.
    So many gadgets, so little $$

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    Quote Originally Posted by vn33 View Post
    Thanks for taking me down the nostalgic road of Palm. Still remember my Palm Pilot Personal fondly, and the others (Palm III, Palm V) afterward. I wish Graffiti is still alive now .. I found that a very accurate way to input text.

    Anyway, hope owners out there had just as much fond memories as I did.
    I had/have the Vx - stopped using it when I got my first smartphone, maybe before. They really didn't do much that I needed to be done - pretty lame compared to a smartphone with modern apps, GPS and Internet. I still use the calendar in the desk computer program, mostly for paper calendars. There are some things Google does not need to know.

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