Whatever happened to …

… the Palm Pilot?

In the middle of a very interesting reply last week, lies the inspiration for this post.  Thanks, Andy Forgrave!

Although I made use of the Palm computing handhelds when they first arrived — along with a separate mobile phone — the world changed when the iPhone arrived in Canada.

I was into the Palm when it came along.  The concept of a handheld Personal Digital Assistant really resonated with me.  Instead of taking a laptop computer along with me or, gasp, paper and pen, why not whip out this device for portable notes?  Unlike what we’ve become used to today, the Palm came with a stylus.  Every now and again, you’d have to orient the screen but it did a magnificent job of input.


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There were a few programs for the Palm but I enjoyed programming for it.  My first project was to put all the schools, addresses, and phone numbers into the device along with driving instructions to get to each school.  My superintendent at the time loved it.  It was great to instructions to get to any school (as long as you were leaving from the board office).  Programming the Palm made a great deal of sense for me.  I had a number of databases that I wanted on there.  The school database was but one.  Another one was my collection of Webquests.  I even put the entire collection of OSAPAC licensed software on there.

Then, I heard Elliot Soloway talk and I was absolutely, completely sold.  The concept of connecting science probes to the Palm opened up all kinds of opportunities to do science and mathematics differently.  In classrooms, rather than buying very expensive equipment, these affordable devices made experimenting portable and affordable.  And, going outside to do experiments was ground breaking.  I still have fond memories of a series of workshops that I did – “Palms and Probes”.

Do the experiment, snap the Palm into its cradle, synch, and everything was on your computer.  There really was a credible sense that we were looking at the future of computing in K12.

Then, as Andy notes, there was a shadow that came over this technology in the form of iPhones and Blackberrys.  Sure, you could do many of the same things but having a telephone and internet connectivity really upset the apple cart.  And, they had rechargeable batteries; no small feature.

But, there may be light ahead.  Is the Palm Pilot Ready for a Comeback?

For this Sunday, your thoughts?

  • Did you ever own a Palm?  Which one?
  • Have you ever written a program for a Palm?  How about any other handheld PDA or do you go with programs available from a company “store”?
  • Are you OK with the dropping of the term PDA and replacing it with “Smartphone”?  Or, do you see a difference in the two.

As always, please share your thoughts via comment below.  I do enjoy reading them

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

The complete collection of “Whatever happened to …” posts is available here.

OTR Links 07/23/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.