personal digital assistant.

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▪ handheld computer

      a handheld computer used to organize data, store contact information, and manage calendars.

      The PDA was developed in the early 1990s as a digital improvement upon the traditional pen-and-paper organizers used to record personal information such as telephone numbers, addresses, and calendars. The first electronic organizers were large, had limited capabilities, and were often incompatible with other electronic systems. As computer technology improved, however, so did personal organizers. Soon companies such as Sharp Electronics Corporation, Casio Computer Company, and Psion PLC developed more-efficient models. The PIMs, or personal information managers, were more user-friendly and could connect to personal computers (personal computer) (PCs), and they had stylus interfaces and upgrade capabilities. In addition, later versions offered e-mail access and the option to download e-books. These improved devices still faced compatibility issues, however.

      In 1993 Apple Inc. released the Newton MessagePad, for which John Sculley, Apple's chief executive officer, coined the term PDA. Although an improvement in some areas, the Newton's handwriting recognition was only 85 percent effective, resulting in ridicule and poor sales. In 1996 Palm, Inc. (Palm OS), released the first PalmPilot PDAs, which quickly became the model for other companies to follow. Soon after, Microsoft Corporation produced a version of its Windows OS ( operating system) for use on PDAs. Most new PDAs are easy to use and feature colour displays, touch screens, sound, increased memory, PC connectivity, improved software, and wireless Internet access. In addition, technologies such as Bluetooth allow PDAs to communicate with a user's primary computer and with other users' PDAs. Most PDAs also offer extensive music storage capabilities as well as access to telephone networks, either through the Internet or through traditional cellular telephone (mobile telephone) technologies.

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Universalium. 2010.

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