Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 26th Aug 2012 10:28 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless In light of the jury verdict in Apple vs. Samsung, the one-liners and jokes flew back and forth. One in particular, by Dan Frakes, has been copied and pasted all over the web, and it goes like this: "When the iPhone debuted, it was widely criticized for having no buttons/keys. Now people think the iPhone's design is 'obvious'." This is a very common trend in this entire debate that saddens me to no end: the iPhone is being compared to simple feature phones, while in fact, it should be compared to its true predecessor: the PDA. PDAs have always done with few buttons.
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Revisionist History
by socheltree on Mon 27th Aug 2012 03:07 UTC
socheltree
Member since:
2012-08-27

Thom Holwerda writes: "As a geek, I do not want history to be revised to make it seem as if mobile computing started with the iPhone and Android - I want credit to go where it's due: Palm. The Zoomer was the first fully touch-screen operated graphical PDA, in 1992 (before the Newton, even), and PalmOS is the common ancestor to all that came after it: PocketPC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and everything else."

As a longtime geek myself I remember the timeline somewhat differently. I owned both the original Newton Message Pad and a variety of Palm devices back when they were relevant. The Newton, while flawed, was a much more sophisticated device with a much more highly developed UI. The Palm was simpler, which was actually a strength given the state of hardware technology at the time, but it followed the Newton, and owned the market by premiering at an incredibly low price. The more sophisticated Newton could not compete at that price level, and with negative reviews of its earliest incarnation had little chance of succeeding.

While the iPhone is certainly not the first PDA, Apple was in this market before Palm. And if you want to go back to the Psion devices, apart from size and apps such as contacts, calendar, and calculator there is little comparable with devices which came after it.

A few citations I found that confirm my memory:

Wikipedia's entry for Palm says "The company started to create a PDA for consumers, called the Zoomer (1993)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm,_Inc.

According to Venture Navigator "In August 1993, Apple began shipping its Newton. Palm’s Zoomer followed in October. " Palm didn't really enter the PDA market until January '96
http://www.venturenavigator.co.uk/content/161

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