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View Full Version : Evan Koblentz | Evolution of the PDA (1975-1995)

Ekkie Tepsupornchai
05-18-2005, 12:00 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.snarc.net/pda/pda-treatise.htm' target='_blank'>http://www.snarc.net/pda/pda-treatise.htm</a><br /><br /></div><i>"The purpose of this document is to be a comprehensive timeline of the history of PDAs. Specifically, my intention is to clarify which companies premiered each of the primary front-end features that are considered standard in modern devices, as of the mid/late-1990s commoditization trend. So this is not a discussion of back-end technologies such as architectures, chips, programming interfaces, and speeds.&lt;...>This research is an ongoing project of mine that began in 2001. My original plan was to compile it in book form, however, I decided to post it online in March 2005 after receiving media and research requests for such information. &lt;...> There are other PDA histories on the web, but none that in my opinion are accurate or thorough, and most of which are flagrantly incorrect."</i><br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/ekkie_earlycasiopda.jpg" /><br /><br />You know, if someone asked me about the history of the PDA, the first words out of my mouth would probably be "Palm" or "Newton". Once I started reading Even Koblentz's document though, I started to understand the concept. The idea of having a digital device (a PDA) to assist us in our personal lives certainly isn't new and it goes much further back than just the Palm or the Newton. Evan does as thorough of a job as I've ever seen addressing the progression and evolution of the PDA. Just don't read this wondering how PDAs in 1975 handled hierarchical tasks or recurring appointments. ;)

Jerry Raia
05-18-2005, 04:21 AM
I think I have owned every HP handheld he mentions there. He left out the HP71!!! (which is one of the ones I still have) how could he do that!! Not to mention the HP75. Huge oversight 8O

05-18-2005, 08:18 PM
What about the HP95LX which I would identify as being the first true PDA? If PDA means "Pretty Damn Abstract" and is a bastardisation dreamed up by marketing people for Palmtop Computer, which was felt to be too consumer-hostile as a term, then the HP95LX is a good contender for the patriarch of all modern PDAs.

My recollection is a bit dimmed with age but I believe the HP95LX was introduced in 1992 or thereabouts, based on the fact that I was working for Lotus Development at the time and I bought one of the first units (in fact I ended up owning two, an original 512K memory device and a later 1MB device).

The HP95LX was a clamshell palmtop computer which looked very similar to its larger brothers in the HP laptop product line but was about a quarter of the size.

Running a full version of DOS 5.0 and incorporating a fully working version of Lotus 1-2-3 (take note Microsoft, who can still only provide us with brain dead versions of Excel in PPCs some fifteen years later), it also included a grown up contacts and notepad application, IrDa and serial ports. In fact everything you require to be productive "on the move".

I can remember being laughed at by colleagues when stranded at a sales conference in Switzerland for a week sometime in 1993, when I stated my intention to finish my budget submissions, staff appraisals and development plans for the next year on my HP95LX and have them ready on my return.

I did all that and more on a device which is still a quarter the size of today's notebook PCs and confounded my critics and astounded my colleagues.

In fact the HP95LX was the inspiration for a popular tagline I dreamed up for a marketing campaign for the Psion 3 series when I started retailing them, "Why lug a laptop when you can pocket a portable?"

I loved those HP95LXs (I still have both but later changed to a Palm Pilot 1000) and to be honest until the most recent and powerful PPCs have never really found a device to replace its portability and versatility.

Of course (to pinch a line from Monty Python), you try telling that to the kids of today and they won't believe you.


05-18-2005, 08:40 PM
For me it was the Wizard from Sharp.