Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is a much used instrument which plays the role of both the organizer as well as a phone.The main advantage of the this device is that it can be used while on the move,is portable and can store a considerably large amount of data. PDAs are supposed to be an extension and complimentary to the PC,rather than being a replacement.
In other words,PDA denotes a small hand held device which is capable of computing,storing information and retrieving the same as per the need or requirement.The term handheld is synonymous to the one of the more popular products called the Palmtop by Hewlett-Packard.
The term PDA was first introduced on January7,by the CEO of Apple Computers,John Sculley who brought out the instrument by referring to it as Apple Newton.It was not a Personal Computer but a personal digital assistant.It could be best described as a useful handheld device and a communication assistant with a touch screen and a pen-stylus which makes for easier handling of data and information.
The Newton included applications like the Notes,Names and Dates and simpler tools like the Calculator,Time Zone Maps etc.One of the significant features of the Newton was the handwriting recognition capability which made it one of the most advanced gadgets in the industry.But the device was way too heavy,expensive and the handwriting recognition software not too accurate.So it was discontinued in 1998,six years after its inception.
Prior to the Newton,there were two kinds of organizers available in the markets which were known as the Psion Organizer and the Sharp Wizard.These were developed in the late 80s and were intended to be portable computers.They featured a small keyboard,a rather small display and some of the basic features like the alarm clock,calendar,telephone pad and the calculator.The Psion II which was introduced in 1986 was a huge hit and nearly half a million pieces of this device were sold.
The original Palm Pilot or the PDA as we see today was introduced in March of 1996 by Palm Computing.This gadget ran on its own Palm Operating System,was the size of the shirt pocket and could be synchronized with the user’s PC.The battery life of the instrument was longer and it could store thousands of contacts and other details.The lack of keyboard in the instrument contributed to its small size.The users had to use the Graffiti language and a stylus to access any information.
With such products making the rounds in the market,Microsoft too jumped in the fray with its Windows CE,its first operating system for the mobile instruments.It was adopted by a wide range of manufacturers to bring out their versions of the hand held personal computer.
Then in 1996,Nokia introduced the first mobile phone which contained all the features of the digital organizer and it was called the 9000 Communicator.This developed into a huge successful category of cell phones which are known as the smart phones in today’s parlance.
These days it has become an integral part of a person’s professional paraphernalia and is frequently used by such people who are on the move frequently.