Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 22:34 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

While the article focuses on Jim Yurchenco's work on building Apple's first mouse, as a Palm adept, I'm obviously more interested in his other great contribution to the computing world: he built the Palm V.

"That was a really important product for us, and the industry", Yurchenco says. "It was one of the first cases where the physical design - the feel and touch points - were considered to be as important as the performance." That wasn't lost on users; the device sold like wild and helped shape modern gadget-lust. Ars Technica's review of the device came with a disclaimer: "Remember, if you don't intend to buy a Palm V, under no circumstances should you allow yourself to look/touch/hold/feel/smell/see/inspect/rub/behold/taste or have any type of contact with one."

I touched upon this in a lot of detail in my Palm retrospective, but in this day and age of iOS vs. Android, wherein everybody seems to think the portable computer era started with the iPhone, it can't be stressed enough just how much Apple - and thus, the entire current smartphone industry - owes to Palm. Whether it's software - iOS draws heavily from Palm OS - or hardware. I wrote:

The Pilots that had come before were strictly utilitarian, focused on businessmen and women instead of general consumers. The Palm V changed all this. Its shape would define the company's products for years to come. It had smooth curved sides with a slightly wider bottom than top section, making it all not only look distinct and beautiful, but also very comfortable to hold. Whether you looked at other PDAs, smartphones, or mobile phones of its era - there was nothing else like it. Everybody else was building plastic monstrosities.

[...]

The Palm V was a smashing success. For the first time, a mobile computing device was designed to be beautiful, and "it turned out to be very successful. We turned it into a personal artefact, or a personal piece of jewellery or something and [Microsoft] couldn't compete with that," according to Hawkins.

The Palm V made pocket computing fashionable. The relationship between Palm OS and iOS is very thick - but so is the one between the Palm V and the iPhone.

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v Roots
by Tony Swash on Mon 18th Aug 2014 22:53 UTC
RE: Roots
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2014 23:02 UTC in reply to "Roots"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It really wasn't. The Newton was how NOT to design a pocket computing device (reflected by the market). My Palm article goes into great detail about this.

In short: entirely different UI metaphor (the difference between Newton OS and Palm OS is larger than Palm OS and iOS/Android), poorly executed, huge, slow, bloated. Everything Palm was not.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Roots
by Tony Swash on Tue 19th Aug 2014 08:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Roots"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

It really wasn't. The Newton was how NOT to design a pocket computing device (reflected by the market). My Palm article goes into great detail about this.

In short: entirely different UI metaphor (the difference between Newton OS and Palm OS is larger than Palm OS and iOS/Android), poorly executed, huge, slow, bloated. Everything Palm was not.


The Newton is to the Palm as the Palm is to the iPhone. That seems pretty obvious. The Newton failed because the technology made it to big, too cumbersome, too limited and too costly. It was an ambitious but premature product delivered by a company that was not run very well.

But the notion that it was not a precursor of the Palm is just silly. Every argument that can be deployed to claim that there is no lineage that leads from the Newton to the Palm can be deployed to argue that there is no lineage that leads from the Palm to the iPhone.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Roots
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 19th Aug 2014 10:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Roots"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

But the notion that it was not a precursor of the Palm


Strawman. I never made such a claim.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Roots
by henderson101 on Tue 19th Aug 2014 12:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Roots"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

"But the notion that it was not a precursor of the Palm


Strawman. I never made such a claim.
"

Yes you did.. literally 3 posts above.


"The relationship between Palm OS and iOS is very thick - but so is the one between the Palm V and the iPhone.

It really wasn't. The Newton was how NOT to design a pocket computing device (reflected by the market). My Palm article goes into great detail about this.
"

That is how I read it. Honestly, anyone who has used the Newton OS and Palm OS 1.x/2.x can see how the claim is valid.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Roots
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 19th Aug 2014 12:34 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Roots"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I stated the relationship wasn't very thick - not that it doesn't exist.

Anyone who has used the notebook metaphor of the Newton knows just how different it is compared to the Palm OS/iOS/Android application-centric UI. Anybody who used an iPhone/Android device can use Palm OS without a moment's hesitation - and vice versa. Now try to do the same for the notebook metaphor of the Newton.

Hint: be ready for *a lot* of questions and confused faces.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Roots
by henderson101 on Tue 19th Aug 2014 15:18 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Roots"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

I stated the relationship wasn't very thick - not that it doesn't exist.


Maybe it's your English? "Thick" means both a measure of size (the wood was thick) , consistency of liquid (the gravy was thick enough to stand a spoon up in) and as in insult meaning "stupid". "Thick" in this context means nothing like you've now implied.

Anyone who has used the notebook metaphor of the Newton knows just how different it is compared to the Palm OS/iOS/Android application-centric UI.


No, not really. We already had this conversation, and I believe I pointed out then that the notebook metaphore was just the default app, which varied depending on which NewtonOS device you used. The App tray was identical to the way Palm's app tray looked in Palm OS 1.x and 2.x and that the categories that later Palm OS variants used to organise their UI didn't exist, and were a complete lift from the way the Newton OS organised its Application drawers.

Anybody who used an iPhone/Android device can use Palm OS without a moment's hesitation - and vice versa. Now try to do the same for the notebook metaphor of the Newton.


Press the App tray button... Voila. The only difference between the two is presentation of the App list. Once you see the App list: identical.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Roots
by M.Onty on Tue 19th Aug 2014 15:37 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Roots"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

I stated the relationship wasn't very thick - not that it doesn't exist.

Maybe it's your English? "Thick" means both a measure of size (the wood was thick) , consistency of liquid (the gravy was thick enough to stand a spoon up in) and as in insult meaning "stupid". "Thick" in this context means nothing like you've now implied.

Thick can also imply intimacy, as in "thick as thieves", which makes perfect sense in this context. Your English, perhaps?

That aside; I've never used a Palm or a Newton, so as you were...

Edited 2014-08-19 15:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Roots
by Morgan on Tue 19th Aug 2014 18:09 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Roots"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Maybe it's your English? "Thick" means both a measure of size (the wood was thick) , consistency of liquid (the gravy was thick enough to stand a spoon up in) and as in insult meaning "stupid". "Thick" in this context means nothing like you've now implied.


I think you may be nitpicking to try to save your argument. I got what Thom was saying right away; while the Newton was a PDA that came before the Palm, it wasn't as influential as one might think. The Newton was expensive, clunky, had terrible software and handwriting recognition, and it was bound to doom the PDA revolution before it even began. And I say all of that as a fan of the Newton.

The Palm, on the other hand, was light, sleek, fast, simple, relatively inexpensive, and had an innovative approach to handwriting recognition: Train the user, not the device. Some say it was evolutionary, some say revolutionary, but I firmly believe that we wouldn't have modern smartphones in their current form without its influence. Sure, we'd have some kind of smart device; perhaps Symbian would have continued to improve instead of languishing. Perhaps Nokia's Communicator would have reigned as a kind of flagship smartphone/palmtop hybrid completely different from what we have now. But without Palm's influence, the iPhone as we know it would never have existed, and it was the spark that lit the fire of modern smartphone design.

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: Roots
by themwagency on Tue 19th Aug 2014 19:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Roots"
themwagency Member since:
2013-03-06

I stated the relationship *wasn't* very thick - not that it doesn't exist.


Wait a second. Was that a mis-type or are you back tracking now?

Here you say "wasn't" but in your original statement you say, "The relationship between Palm OS and iOS *is* very thick"

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Roots
by kryogenix on Wed 20th Aug 2014 19:41 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Roots"
kryogenix Member since:
2008-01-06

I stated the relationship wasn't very thick - not that it doesn't exist.

Anyone who has used the notebook metaphor of the Newton knows just how different it is compared to the Palm OS/iOS/Android application-centric UI. Anybody who used an iPhone/Android device can use Palm OS without a moment's hesitation - and vice versa. Now try to do the same for the notebook metaphor of the Newton.


You obviously weren't a Newton user, especially of later Newton devices like the MP2x00.

On the Newton you hit "Extras" to see installed apps. On android you hit the "Apps" button. The major UI difference is the fact that the notepad is the default app running when you turn it on.

Later Newtons were actually pretty damn zippy with a 233MHz DEC StrongARM CPU. The first "high performance" ARM. Early ones were pretty pokey though.

I also had functional web browsers, built-in fax capabilities, HWR that was far more effective than graffiti if you had decent handwriting. Oh.... and wireless network support. I also had a nice Visual BASIC-like development environment that ran on the device itself. Wrote an IRC client with it.

The Palm V was an absolute TOY compared to the Newton MP2100. The Palm V was an ok ORGANIZER, not a PDA or handheld computer. It was incapable of doing even HALF what the Newton was. Trust me, I've written software for both.

As far as iOS goes, it's pretty useless too since it relies on imprecise fingers as a pointing device. Cool little game machine, very fast but most "real work" potential is locked down or forgotten.

Yeah, Palm and the iPhone have sold many millions but the vast majority of people bought them for the "cool" factor, not the "tool" factor. Most don't even know how to do a calendar entry on their phones.

The Palm devices were cheap Newton knockoffs that did 80% of what people did with their Newtons for 1/5th the price. It didn't sell better because it was better. It sold better because it was cheap AND cool looking.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Roots
by BallmerKnowsBest on Tue 19th Aug 2014 15:53 UTC in reply to "Roots"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

"The relationship between Palm OS and iOS is very thick - but so is the one between the Palm V and the iPhone.


As was the the relationship between the Newton and Palm.

http://www.mujmac.cz/old-idif/images/newton.jpg

http://www.wired.com/2013/08/remembering-the-apple-newtons-propheti...
"

The Palm devices were a success, while the Newton was a notorious failure - therefore, Palm clearly didn't draw any inspiration from Newton... at least if we're going to be consistent with the standard Apple fanboy reasoning that's used to argue that the iPhone owes nothing to anything that preceded it, while at the same time claiming that Android ripped-off iOS based on nothing but the dates they were released to the public.

Reply Score: 6

Palm "concepts" was superior ...
by t0nZ on Tue 19th Aug 2014 11:03 UTC
t0nZ
Member since:
2011-04-27

....superior to nowadays iphones or smartphones.
People was using them without internet access, without facebook, twitter, tons of games and all the crap..
People was using for the value of good made "life organizer".
Think about it.

Reply Score: 4

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

....superior to nowadays iphones or smartphones.
People was using them without internet access, without facebook, twitter, tons of games and all the crap..
People was using for the value of good made "life organizer".
Think about it.



There are still similarly-functioning products currently on the market, namely the iPod Touch and the Galaxy Player models. Compared to the pure PDA-style computing devices like the various Palm Pilot, iPAQ, and Dell Axim models, the modern alternatives are superior in practically every way. More affordable, more and better apps, more stable OSes, better features, better sound, better screens, lighter weight, more attractive, better expandability and connectivity options, etc.

And the fact remains that people want mobile internet, and they want to make phone calls. ;)

Reply Score: 2

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

Just about only the iPod Touch is still around. Samsung has not released a new Galaxy Player in a year or two.

Sony still has a Walkman model running android, and there is one or two Cowon models in their Plenue range i think (but those are expensive PMPs than PDAs).

There is also the Kurio 4S Touch. But that company is focusing on kid friendly products (simplified launcher, parental controls etc).

Honestly i wonder when Apple will retire the iPod Touch.

Reply Score: 3

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

I use a Galaxy Player sometimes. It satisfies all of my "Smartphone" needs, and without a monthly bill. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Iterations of an idea
by ezraz on Tue 19th Aug 2014 21:38 UTC
ezraz
Member since:
2012-06-20

Of course Palm learned from Newton. They took what worked and tried a different path for things that didn't.

It's being very anti-apple to discount how important the newton was as a product, maybe conceptually more than actually selling, but i saw a couple in the wild and i watched the demos and i knew that the future was mobile computing directly on a large screen.

it was too early and probably too ambitious. the palm tried to do less than the newton, but it did most of it better, so ultimately it did more in the hands of real people.

i had several palms, and we were always waiting for them to get as ambitious as the newton but they never really went there. they stayed focus on contacts, calendars, and basics. newton was trying to be an iphone 18 years before the iphone and it just didn't have the tech specs (the screen & processor) or the software maturity to pull it off.

you also have to ignore how many of the newton team ended up as major players at palm and handspring.

Reply Score: 0