Today’s cheapest iPhone vs the PalmPilot: 20 years of handheld computing


Back before our phones did everything, computers sat on our desktops or in our briefcases. The idea of a pocket computing device was something of a dream, but until the mid-1990s, it was too difficult to engineer into something a mainstream consumer could afford to buy.

The Pilot 1000 was bare bones, especially by today’s standards. It had a 160×160 pixel display. There was no keyboard, neither on-screen nor BlackBerry-style. You entered information into the device by learning a new way to write, called Graffiti. This was a gesture language entered with a stylus where each letter was designed to be clearly distinct from every other. It wasn’t hard to learn, but it wasn’t instant, either.

Even so, the Palm devices found a sweet spot, both in terms of price and size.

For many of us, this article will be a wistful trip down memory lane. For many more of you, it will invoke pity of those of us old enough to have used a PalmPilot.