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Key Points

  • When the first model of the Palm Pilot was first released in 1996, over two and half decades ago, it was meant to be the electronic version of an organizer.
  • Its functionality was soon upgraded for later models which became during that period, what smartphones and tablets, are today, in a manner of speaking.
  • However, later incarnations were outpaced by other more popular offerings which took over the market in smart mobile devices. That said, the Palm Pilot still remains in use today.

10 Facts About the Palm Pilot

isolated pda
The PalmPilot was the first successful PDA.
  • The original Palm Pilot was manufactured by Palm Computing
  • The prototype PDA was named the “Palm Taxi”.
  • The original PDA models did not have flash memory, backlighting, or an infrared port.
  • The original PDA weighed 5.7 ounces.
  • Two AAA batteries powered the first Palm Pilot.
  • The ability to synchronize with desktops made the PDA phone extremely popular.
  • Original applications included games, Address Book, Calculator, Memo Pad, Date Book, and Expense.
  • Later Palm Pilot models came with applications for videos,photos, web surfing, and sending texts.
  • Palm OS 1.0 executed applications within RAM.
  • Palm OS 3.5 was the first OS to support native 8-bit color.

The History of the Palm Pilot: What to Know

The Palm Pilot was designed by Ed Colligan, Donna Dubinsky, and Jeff Hawkins. In 1992, they founded Palm Computing which manufactured the device. The PDA was released in March of 1996. By this time, U.S. Robotics had purchased the company. Palm Computing originally focused on developing personal information management and handwriting recognition applications. The applications were named PalmPrint and PalmOrganizer. Further research convinced the founders that they could design quality hardware as well.

The Palm Pilot 1000 and 5000 were the original PDAs. They could play some games and included basic applications. The PDAs featured 128 kilobytes of RAM, a 16 MHz processor, and a monochrome touchscreen. Between 1998 and 2000, the Palm Pilot Personal and Professional were released. The Personal had an initial price of $299, while the professional had a price of $399. They used Palm OS 2.0 and featured backlit screens. The Personal had 512 kB of RAM, while the Professional featured 1024 kB. After these devices, a wide variety of PDA phones were designed until they were discontinued in 2011.

Quick Facts

Original price
Palm Pilot Professional ($399), Palm Pilot Personal ($299)
Units Sold
Over 30 million

Palm Pilot Versions: Each Edition

Original Versions 1996

  • Palm Pilot 1000
  • Palm Pilot 5000

1998-2000 Versions

  • Palm Pilot Personal, Palm Pilot Professional
  • Palm III, Palm IIIe, Palm IIIx, Palm IIIxe, Palm IIIc
  • Palm V, Palm Vx, Palm VII, Palm VIIx
  • Palm m100, Palm m105, Palm m125, Palm m130, Palm m500, Palm m505, Palm m515, Palm i705
  • Handspring Visor, Handspring Treo 90, Handspring Treo 180, Handspring Treo 180g, Handspring Treo 270, Handspring Treo 300

2000-2009 Versions

  • Tungsten E, Tungsten E2, Tungsten T, Tungsten T2, Tungsten T3, Tungsten T5, Tungsten W, Tungsten C, TX
  • Zire, Zire 21, Z-22, Zire 31, Zire 71, Zire 72
  • Treo 600, Treo 650, Treo 700w, Treo 680

The Public Response

The original Palm Pilot hit the market in 1996. It wasn’t an instant hit but gained in popularity each year. By 1998, over 30 million devices had been sold. Palm Pilots were popular for many reasons such as games and the ability to sync with desktops.

Up Next…

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Palm Pilot: Everything You Need to Know FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When did the Palm Pilot come out?

The Palm Pilot was released in March of 1996.

What was the original price of the Palm Pilot?

The Palm Pilot Personal was $299 and the Professional was $399.

What is a Palm Pilot?

The Palm Pilot was a PDA device that allowed you to take notes, manage contacts and documents, and much more. You could also sync this information to a desktop computer or laptop.

Who created Palm Pilots?

Jeff Dawkins, Donna Dubinsky, Ed Colligan

What does a Palm Pilot do?

The original Palm Pilot could manage and view documents, keep notes, play games, and manage contacts. Some later versions could send texts and multimedia files, surf the web, take photos, and record videos.

Do Palm Pilots still exit?

Palm Pilots were discontinued in 2011, but some used models are still available.

What happened to PalmPilot

Due to fierce competition from other devices, the Palm Pilot was discontinued in 2011.

What is a Palm Pilot phone?

A Palm Pilot phone is a device that could accomplish a variety of tasks that you can perform with modern smartphones such as web surfing, document management, taking photos, and recording videos.

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