Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Where Are They Now? Personal Digital Assistants

I had a Palm personal digital assistant (PDA) back in the day. I thought that I was quite state-of-the-art at the time. I still have the PDA in the back of my desk drawer. Oddly enough, I think it was my experience with PDAs that made me somewhat gun-shy about getting a smart-phone. My 10-year old son received a smartphone for Christmas. I guess it's time for me to let go of my PDA memories and move into the 2010s!

Do you remember Palm Pilots and other PDA devices?

What they were: The handy-dandy, pocketable gadgets that started as organizers in the early 1990s and blossomed into full-blown computing devices, from the pioneering Apple Newton and Casio Zoomer to the enduringly popular Palm PalmPilot and Compaq iPaq lines.

What happened: By 2005 or so, stand-alone PDAs were rendered almost entirely superfluous by their close cousins known as smartphones, which started out big and clunky but eventually did everything a PDA did, and a lot more. Despite occasional attempts to reinvent the PDA -- such as Palm’s ill-fated LifeDrive -- almost nobody chose to purchase and carry a phone and a PDA.

Current whereabouts: I’m not sure when any manufacturer last released a new PDA, unless you want to count the iPod Touch as one. (And come to think of it, I can’t think of a strong argument against calling it a PDA.) HP, which acquired the iPaq line when it bought Compaq, still sells four aging PDAs under the name. Palm, meanwhile, maintains an eerie ghost town of a handheld store, which still lists three models but says they’re all sold out. Amazon still has Palm PDAs in stock, though, so they’re not quite dead. Yet.

SOURCE: 'Where Are They Now? 25 Computer Products That Refuse to Die' by Harry McCracken.
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