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The first attempt at mass-producing the PDA was in the early 1980’s when the Psion Corporation released their small handheld Psion 1. The product was the size of an average cigarette pack and had address and organizer capabilities. The Psion 1 was innovative for the time but, due to cost and the fact it lacked any catchy or unique features, people continued to use their traditional paper and pen address books.

Over the next decade as technology raced forward, and prices went down dramatically, the demand for the PDA grew greatly.

The first Personal Data Assistant designed for the mass market was by Apple computer in 1993. Apple’s first product was called the Newton Message Pad. The Newton was the first personal data assistant to incorporate handwriting recognition software. The number one selling point for the Newton was its touch sensitive screen.

The Newton caught on and soon other companies started to develop personal data assistants.

The largest leap forward was made when Palm Computing released the Palm Pilot in 1996. The Palm Pilot was unique in that it allowed you to write on the small screen. The PDA would then convert your handwriting into text. This feature is called Graffiti. Another fantastic feature of the Palm Pilot was that you could download, or synchronize, your data with your home personal computer or laptop. These abilities are major factors in the popularity of PDA’s, as we know them today.

As the PDA gained in popularity, increases in processor speed and memory capabilities drove the PDA to a quasi-mini computer capacity. In the last five years the processor speeds have grown to over 300 megahertz and the available amount of random access memory has increased to over sixty-four megabytes. With the addition of available Internet access, color displays, and various software options the PDA is quickly becoming a cost effective portable computer.