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What Does PDA Stand For?


While there are more than 100 different meanings that can be associated with the three-letter acronym PDA, everything from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to the texting-chat abbreviation for “pretty damn arrogant”, the meaning most readily connected to this sequence is still Personal Digital Assistant.

The Name Is Obsolete

This despite the fact that the Personal Digital Assistant acronym was deemed obsolete in 2009. Thanks largely to the adoption by the consumer marketplace of the Blackberry, Apple iPhone, various Smart Phone models and now Androids, the functionality areas that were once the exclusive portable domain of laptop computers and PDA’s – calendaring, the sending and receiving of e-mail, the attachment and organization of data, image, video and audio files – is now a near-universal component of all portable devices.

The Origin of the PDA

Although many American consumers might readily associate the invention of the PDA with the San Diego-based company Palm USA, the device’s origins date back to the efforts of British engineer David Potter, who put forth the first PDA in 1980. For a decade, very little happened with his device, as the world strove to put in place a mobile network capable of supporting its use. PDA’s finally began to take off in the early 1990s, aided by the introduction of a third generation of Potter’s invention, the Psion Series 3, and a Jaguar model from Hewlett-Packard.

The Palm Pilot Is Introduced

In 1993, Apple introduced the MessagePad. Running on Newton O/S/, it was the first PDA to make use of a digital pen and handwriting recognition software, although Apple would eventually retire the entire product line in 1998. The first Palm Pilot meanwhile was released in June 1996, and was arguably the first fully functional PDA manufactured for mass consumption.

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