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PDA - personal digital assistant

Short for personal digital assistant, a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax, Internet and networking features. A typical PDA can function as a cellular phone, fax sender, Web browser and personal organizer. PDAs may also be referred to as a palmtop, hand-held computer or pocket computer.

Not a Portable Computer

Unlike portable computers, most PDAs began as pen-based, using a stylus rather than a keyboard for input. This means that they also incorporated handwriting recognition features. Some PDAs can also react to voice input by using voice recognition technologies. PDAs are available in either a stylus or keyboard version.

Apple Computer, which introduced the Newton MessagePad in 1993, was one of the first companies to offer PDAs. Shortly thereafter, several other manufacturers offered similar products. One of the most popular brands of PDAs was the series of Palm Pilots from Palm, Inc.

Smartphones and Tablets Render PDAs Obsolete

As technology changed the world of mobile devices, the PDA has become obsolete as devices like touch-screen smartphones and tablets grow in popularity. Many of the original manufacturers of PDAs eventually entered the smartphone and tablet market, or were bought out by larger companies. For example, Palm was purchased by HP and the operating system used in a line of early HP TouchPads.

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