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History of PDAs - Part #1

Who developed the first PDA? How did it get to be a smartphone? The Mobile Spoon is going on a journey to learn the history of PDAs.

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History of PDAs: Part #1

The personal digital assistant (PDA) devices (AKA: Palmtop computers) were introduced back in the 80's with the release of some basic models. Years later, PDAs are everywhere, wearing their new shape as 'all-around' smart-phones, with media players, Internet browsers, game consoles, and more.

The Mobile Spoon is going on a journey to try and find the noticeable milestones in the history of the PDAs. (in case of inaccuracies, feel free to comment!):

1983: CASIO PF-3000 - the first digital diary:


In 1983, Casio's first digital diary, the PF-3000, was released.

This electronic calculator had a digital diary, telephone book, schedule, and memo functions.

It was soon in demand among business people. Later models even had an option to synchronize with a PC (using a non-USB cradle of course...).

Although it was never considered to be a PDA (especially due to the fact PDA was not a term back then...) but this old device included some of the pioneering technology for today’s PDA.

1984: Psion Organizer


This piece of beauty from Psion is considered to be the first real PDA. It was first introduced at 1984.

Its first model of the Organizer was based on an 8-bit Hitachi 6301-family processor. It featured 4K of ROM and 2K of battery-backed RAM, and had a single-row monochrome LCD screen.

The machine provided a simple calculator and clock but had no operating system. After the big success of generation 1, Psion decided to create the Organizer 2 (and later also 3) which were even more powerful than the first one!!! ;-)

Both models had an alphabetically arranged 6x6 keyboard protected by a hard plastic sliding cover. (similar to slider phones nowadays... or maybe not...)

Note about Psion:

Making some more research (or should I call it: "regoogle"), I found some interesting facts about Psion:

Psion was also a pioneer in many other areas: It was Psion who originally developed the Symbian OS (later sold to Nokia), it was Psion that invented the term NetBook and according to this amazing story; tomtom and iPod were both a result of inventions from people working at Psion (ex Psion directors). Does it mean that Psion only hires great minds? Or maybe it means they don't know how to preserve them?

Years later, Psion is now part of Psion Teklogix which creates rugged handheld and laptops devices. I had a chance to work with some Psion Teklogix PDAs (such as iKon and Workabout) and I have to say they are really powerful devices.

1992: Apple Newton - Introducing the term "PDA":


The term 'PDA' was first used on January 7, 1992 by Apple Computer CEO John Sculley at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, referring to the Apple Newton.

Yep. This innovative, eye-candy, device from Apple really made a revolution (rings a bell?)! It had a touch screen, and included both hardware and software, which together combined the Newton Platform. It was an operating system!

The first personal digital assistant? Probably.

Here's a funny mockup of what could have been the Newton launcher:


During tthe 90's, other companies, notably Sharp, Motorola, and Digital Ocean, also released their own devices that ran the Newton OS. None were as successful as Apple's devices.

No Copy/Paste, no MMS:

The Notes application allowed users to create small documents that could contain text that had been typed, or that had been recognized from handwriting, as well as free-hand sketches, "Shapes", and "ink text".

One of the biggest criticism about it, though, was that it didn't have Copy/Paste. Apple said it will be solved in one of their next releases...

(Looking at the old notes application does show some resemblance to the newer Apple PDA - the iPhone...)


The Newton development started in 1989 and officially ended on February 27, 1998. They say there are some Apple fans that still use this old device.

Next in the History Of PDAs:

Palm taking over the PDAs realm, making the Apple Newton disappear. Some say history repeats itself... (without mentioning Palm Pre...)
Like this one - check out part #2 of this post which was already submitted in the Mobile Spoon


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By ManojKumar27 months ago

It's always intresting to read or knowing about the history. Wayback of PDA is a good choice and presented well.

Last post by ManojKumar: Dell Released 'wireless charging' Laptop