From Palm Pilot to Palm Pre: A brief history of Palm's handhelds

Will the Palm Pre be the last in a storied line of products, or will it mark the beginning of a new era for the once and former Palm, Inc.?

Handspring Pioneers Palm Phones

In the early 2000s, successfully marrying a PDA to a cell phone with data capabilities became the Holy Grail of handheld computing. Several Palm licensees--most notably Kyocera with its 6035 and Samsung with the i300--brought products to market, but their efforts were typically too large, too heavy, and insufficiently phonelike.

Meanwhile, Research in Motion's BlackBerry handhelds were attracting more and more business customers who needed a usable keyboard to handle e-mail on the road. In mid-2002, Handspring, a Palm OS licensee founded by Palm cofounders Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, came much closer to the mark with its first Treo PDA/phone hybrids--devices with flip-phone lids that when opened revealed QWERTY keyboards (while retaining color screens that supported Graffiti input). The Treo 270 (shown above), was a GSM phone priced at $400 from T-Mobile after a $100 mail-in rebate; the Treo 300 worked on CDMA networks.

Photo: Courtesy of Palm

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