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.?

The First Wireless Palm: Palm VII

At roughly the same time that the Palm V appeared--and before the first color Palm appeared--Palm also shipped the Palm VII, its first PDA with built-in wireless capability. Equipped with a flip-up antenna, the Palm VII cost a small fortune ($599), but the astronomical price probably wasn't the only reason that the Palm VII ultimately flopped. Its service relied on Bell South's Mobitext network, which at best could move data at a poky 8 kbps--slower than most conventional dial-up hookups. At that speed, browsing standard Web pages was out of the question, so Palm devised a scheme that involved accessing specially packaged Web content using so-called Web Clipping applications from high-profile partners such as Travelocity, USA Today, and Yahoo.

The pricing for the required service began at $10 a month and rapidly escalated, depending on usage. But Palm's tech-savvy customer base--by now accustomed to easy all-you-can-eat desktop access to a World Wide Web that was growing by leaps and bounds--never took to the notion of limited, packaged content and metered pricing.

Photo: Courtesy of Palm

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