PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) – A mobile device (Also known as a handheld PC, or personal data assistant) that functions as a personal information manager. The term evolved from Personal Desktop Assistant, a software term for an application that prompts or prods the user of a computer with suggestions or provides quick reference to contacts and other lists. PDAs were largely discontinued in the early 2010s after the widespread adoption of highly capable, in particular iOS and Android-based, smartphones.
Nearly all PDAs have the ability to connect to the Internet. A PDA has an electronic visual display, enabling it to include a web browser, all models also have audio capabilities enabling use as a portable media player, and also enabling most of them to be used as mobile phones. Most PDAs can access the Internet, intranets or extranets via Wi-Fi or Wireless Wide Area Networks. Most PDAs employ touchscreen technology.
The first PDA was released in 1984 by Psion, the Organizer. Followed by Psion’s Series 3, in 1991, which began to resemble the more familiar PDA style. It also had a full keyboard. The term PDA was first used on January 7, 1992 by Apple Computer CEO John Sculley at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, referring to the Apple Newton. In 1994, IBM introduced the first PDA with full mobile phone functionality, the IBM Simon, which can also be considered the first smartphone. Then in 1996, Nokia introduced a PDA with full mobile phone functionality, the 9000 Communicator, which became the world’s best-selling PDA. The Communicator spawned a new category of PDAs: the “PDA phone”, now called “smartphone”. Another early entrant in this market was Palm, with a line of PDA products which began in March 1996. The terms “personal digital assistant” and “PDA” apply to smartphones but are not used in marketing, media, or general conversation to refer to devices such as the BlackBerry, iPad or iPhone.