PDA: Personal Digital Assistant



In 1993, Apple Computers vowed to reinvent portable computing. The company promised an "all-being, all-knowing, all-doing" electronic device. It would serve as an address book. Day planner. Notepad. Fax machine. Pager. All electronic. All easy to use. All in the palm of a human hand. Apple even devised a catchy, hi-tech name for this miracle machine- the Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA for short.

Finally, at MacWorld, Apple released the worldís first PDA, the Newton. Its specifications were impressive. LCD touch screen. Pen input. Handwriting recognition. Suite of productivity applications. Wide hardware expandability options. Open architecture for add-on software. Bundled neatly into a one pound, sleek, black casing. Even George Jetson would have been proud.

The rest of the world was not as easily impressed. Many people were left grumbling about its inaccurate handwriting recognition and fragile hardware components. They complained about excessive weight and uncomfortable ergonomics. They questioned the $700 price tag of what they perceived as a executiveís toy. The Apple Newton grabbed peopleís imaginations, but did not capture their wallets.

Hordes of other companies attempted to take advantage of Appleís failure. Each one of them released their own version of the perfect PDA. However, none of them succeeded in creating a product that penetrated mainstream computing. Instead, they were all battered by an army of various problems and dilemmas.

This website has been created to take a look at these obstacles. It is not meant to be a highly technical document nor a complex business treatise. Rather, it is a concise, organized, and interactive introduction to several major problems surrounding PDAs.

For more on the purpose of this website, readers are encouraged to visit the Production Notes.