(Personal Digital Assistant) A handheld computer for managing contacts, appointments and tasks. PDAs typically include a name and address database, calendar, to-do list and note taker, which are the functions in a personal information manager application (see PIM). Wireless PDAs may also offer e-mail and Web browsing, and data are synchronized between the PDA and desktop computer via USB or wireless. PDAs mostly evolved from stand-alone devices to a handful of applications in a smartphone, which can also perform countless other tasks (see smartphone).|
Newton Was the Pioneer
In 1993, Apple's MessagePad, more commonly known as the "Newton," was the pioneer in this field, and Apple CEO John Sculley actually coined the PDA term for a pen-based device. However, PalmPilots, introduced a couple years after, popularized the technology. When the BlackBerry offered synchronized e-mail in 1999, the PDA was on its way to becoming a mobile office.
Pen or Key Based
PDAs may use a pen or tiny physical keyboard. With pen-based PDAs, users tap menus and enter text on the screen with a stylus. See Newton, Palm and thumb culture.
Apple's Newton pioneered the PDA concept in 1993 and later spun off Newton, Inc. to specialize in the technology. It was ahead of its time. (Image courtesy of Apple Inc.)
Introduced in 1996, the PalmPilot was the first model of the Palm family, which started a revolution in handheld organizers. (Image courtesy of palmOne, Inc.)