A couple weeks ago I posted about the 10th birthday of the Palm Pilot release on Geek.com and meant to add a memory lane post here on my blog. I then became swamped at work and didn’t get around to making my Palm history post so here it is two weeks late.
I was a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1996 and was then transferred to Washington, D.C. to serve at the Marine Safety Center. I was selected and trained to be a member of the salvage team in early 1997 and started assisting with responses to vessel casualties. I had carried around a Franklin Planner for a while and was using this to document my responses, keep track of all my vital contacts, and take notes as cases unfolded. Another member of the team and I then contacted U.S. Robotics about a new mobile device they were promoting and they sent us 2 Palm Pilot 1000 units to test out with the salvage team. I quickly became the mobile device expert as I fell in love with these mobile computers and replaced my Franklin Planner shortly after as I used the Pilot 1000 for taking notes, keeping my contacts handy, and more. I then figured out how to use AvantGo and was reading sites offline as I commuted on the D.C. Metro system.
I then became an avid Palm site junkie and was reading UGeek.com (now the Geek.com site I write for), PalmStation (this was probably my favorite Palm site), Brighthand, Palm Tipsheet, Calvin’s PalmPilot FAQ, and more.
Once I was bit by the PDA addiction bug I then saved up my money and bought a Palm III for myself as I started loading up my device with 3rd party applications and trying to see what these things could really do. It cost a pretty penny at the time, somewhere around $300 and I had a tough time convincing my wife I really needed it. I then learned I could do well selling devices on ebay and started my system where I would sell my old device, after keeping them in mint condition, and purchase the latest and greatest. After the Palm III I sold it after about 6 months and moved up to a Palm IIIx. I then found a cool accessory, the axxPac that very few people probably ever heard of, much less used. This attachment gave me an external storage card slot, using SmartMedia, for storing my ebooks and other files. The axxPac was quite rare and I was able to get a good price when I sold the IIIx and lots of accessories to a buyer in Australia using ebay.
I was then trying to figure out what device I was moving up to and strongly considered the Handera 330 for its excellent expansion features and the fact I could use lots of my accessories. I decided that color was more important than expansion and bought my first color PDA, the Palm IIIc. I was always pretty excited about buying and opening up a new device, but I remember absolutely freaking out when I received the Palm IIIc from Buy.com. The display was beautiful and I liked the black finish on the case. After experiencing color on this Palm device I actually started dabbling in the Pocket PC world with my first purchase, the HP Jornada 548 (but that is another story).
While I loved the color display on the IIIc, the form factor of the Palm V series was absolutely amazing and calling me to try one out. I picked up a Palm Vx and was impressed with how much Palm could pack into such a slim, solid form factor. I wish we had a device today using this same form factor.
The Palm Vx was the last Palm branded device I owned for the next few years as I discovered the innovative, high resolution color, MP3 playing Sony CLIE devices and went through the T615c, NR70, NX70, TG50, NX80, and UX50. I almost cried the day Sony left the Palm market since I thought the UX50 was close to perfection and one more update to the form factor would have been PDA nirvana for me. I thought the NX80 was an amazing device for a clamshell form factor and now that I sit here thinking about these devices I really do miss the good old days of releases every three months from Sony.
It was during my CLIE heyday that I started writing for Geek.com and was able to make a little cash on the side that I put into my PDA slush fund so I did not have to always sell my old devices to get the latest device and I didn’t have to ever touch my family budget.
My next Palm device was another innovative device, but it was not a Sony. I purchased a Tapwave Zodiac2 soon after their release and was very happy with it from a gaming perspective. After a month or so though I discovered I didn’t play that many games and found the device to be a bit too big and was lacking some productivity apps, like an email client. I moved back to a Palm branded device, the Tungsten T3, and still have this device in my personal collection. I was very happy with the high resolution display and features of the T3 and consider it, the Treo 650, and the UX50 my top three favorite Palm devices.
I was able to briefly evaluate some of the newer Palm devices, but none of them were compelling enough to replace my T3. I did eventually try a Treo 650 and could not believe what I was missing with the Treo form factor and quickly bought a Treo 600 and then sold it to upgrade to a Treo 650. My Treo 650 has now been my primary mobile device for over a year and I look forward to the rumored Treo 700p with even more improvements. I rarely use a non-phone device and don’t think I’ll ever go back to a two device solution again.
I have owned about 14 different Palm models, and tested out many more, and have some great memories from all of them. Time has gone by way too fast and I really do miss the good old days with Palm, Sony, Garmin, Handera, and Handspring. I look forward to another 10 years and am happy to be a part of the mobile device enthusiast community.