posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Mar 2013 14:51 UTC
IconAfter a few months of planning, several weeks of work, and possibly a few kilometres of aimless pacing through the living room, I'm happy to present "Palm: I'm ready to wallow now". This massive article (22,000 words) covers countless aspects of Palm, its devices, its operating system, and the company's importance to the mobile industry. I start with a detailed look at the history of handwriting recognition, after which I move on to the four hardware products I believe are crucial in understanding Palm as a company. Of course, I also dive into Palm OS, covering the kernel, its filesystem (or lack thereof), 'multitasking' capabilities, user experience, and much more. Important Palm OS licensees like Sony and Handspring make an appearance, and I cover the failed attempt at modernising the Palm OS: Palm OS 6 Cobalt. Finally, the conclusion ties it all together. For the first time in OSNews' history, you can also buy this article to support OSNews and make more articles like this possible in the future (don't worry - the regular online version is free, as always!). I suggest you grab a coffee, sit back, and enjoy.

For the first time in OSNews' 16-year history, this article is also available for purchase as a PDF. Since this article is quite long (22,000 words), and took a lot of time, effort, and even funds (buying hardware) to write, we figured some might be interested in buying a PDF version of the article for a better reading experience. In addition, you'll support OSNews.

For just $4.99, you'll get a beautiful PDF version of the article (55 pages!) - no DRM, no usage restrictions, nothing. Use it on any device or with any reader that supports PDF. This article - both the online and the PDF version - are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. As a bonus, you'll also get 16 additional photos and a bunch of Palm OS screenshots that didn't make it into the article.

Get the article

If you'd like to see more in-depth articles like this one (I'm planning similar articles about Symbian, the Newton, and Windows Mobile), please consider supporting us by buying this article. Thanks, and happy reading!


After the release of the iPhone sent shockwaves across the mobile phone industry, virtually every established player was shell-shocked, and it took them years to get back on their feet - if at all. We've seen a few casualties along the way, but probably none hit me harder on a personal level than the demise of Palm.

As a long-time Palm user, I was very excited when the company unveiled the first Pre and its brand new webOS operating system, all the way back in January 2009. At that point, Windows Mobile still looked like this, Android was still at API level 1, and BlackBerry and Nokia still had no clue what they were doing. Sadly, webOS never made it to The Netherlands, and then, as we all know, Palm was swallowed whole by HP who had absolutely no clue what to do with the knowledge, heritage, and brand they had just bought.

Four years down the line, and here I am, trying to summarise my thoughts on a company that defined the mobile industry.

In this article, I'm going to celebrate the Palm that I loved - the Palm OS Palm. As someone who can still write the Graffiti II alphabet, this is a trip down into the history of the company and the operating system that, in my view, built the foundation of the popular mobile operating systems we use today. The Android and iOS violence might cast its dark shadow upon the rich past of mobile computing, but I will have none of that. Palm is the one that shaped this industry more than any other, and they deserve the credit.

Let's start in the 19th century.

You read that right.

Table of contents
  1. Introduction
  2. History of handwriting recognition
  3. Palm's hardware
  4. The Palm operating system
  5. Miscellaneous
  6. I'm ready to wallow now
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