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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.