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Handhelds Businesses HP Patents

The PalmPilots That Never Were 56

harrymcc writes "Among the things that HP is getting in its $1.2 billion takeover of Palm are hundreds of patents for mobile technologies. Many are reflected in Palm's iconic products. But they also include odd keyboard designs, peculiar ideas like a stylus tip that converts into a joystick, and pre-Treo hybrids of phone and PDA that just didn't work. I rounded up some fascinating examples." It's worth clicking through the obnoxious slide-show format to see them.
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The PalmPilots That Never Were

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  • Oh yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @08:30AM (#32055372) Homepage

    I had a PalmPilot M100 in high school...that thing was AWESOME. Super useful for keeping track of homework, keeping study session schedules...I also used it to take notes, since my handwriting was atrocious but the weird Palm recognition alphabet was so easy to do quickly.

    I miss having a need for one...I always felt like such a cool fucker whipping that thing out.

    That's what she said.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's what she...fuck!
    • Re:Oh yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:31AM (#32055656)

      Yeah, I also felt awesome when I was the only guy in my office to have a PDA...

      Why did Palm drop the ball? I mean, there was a moment when they had total market dominance, but instead of creating a new, better OS to cover their opportunity areas (like an actual filesystem for PalmOS, or a decent media player), they just rested in their laurels and allowed themselves to drop into obscurity...

      I'm still kinda sad HTC/Google didn't buy them, they could have used Palm's patent portfolio to countersue Apple, or at least get a cross-licensing deal

      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        Why did Palm drop the ball? I mean, there was a moment when they had total market dominance, but instead of creating a new, better OS to cover their opportunity areas (like an actual filesystem for PalmOS, or a decent media player), they just rested in their laurels and allowed themselves to drop into obscurity...

        You answered your own market dominance = no competitors. That went on for long enough so that by the time they realized they did have competitors, they were already behind the curve :(

      • Why did Palm drop the ball?

        Palm got stuck. When the time came for color screens and faster processors, they were both unable to help developers easily port apps forward, and unable to deliver a "clean break" new OS that was sufficiently better than the old one. One shining example of this is that on some Sony Clies that have color screens at double the resolution, the OS UI itself was pixel-doubled, while some apps (that display photos, for instance) were specially written to take advantage, precisely the o

        • It takes a steady hand to lead a company through reinventing their product line. Jobs, as you point out, did it twice. I don't think Palm had people with attention span to pull it off.

          I looked at the first few examples in TFA and they all violate KISS (keep it simple, stupid). My 1MB palm pilot (from 1997?) had a simpler UI than the cheap organisers of the day. The sliding keyboard of the Pre made it more complex IMHO.

      • by Gordo_1 ( 256312 )

        Classic case of innovator's dilemma. This is a great excerpt from the authoritative book on the topic: []

      • Agree on the whole feeling awesome thing, for me the biggest thing was how quickly I could pull out a book on public transit.

        Yea palm totally dropped the ball, the Palm V operating system was one of the best the world has ever seen, it incorporated file associations and it's "all programs stay running in RAM" feature was really amazing. Probbably a pain to do any development that relied on large data structures but in any case it was brilliantly done.

        I'm sure the developers rebelled against the kind of
    • by RPoet ( 20693 )

      Ah! I had an M100 as well. It was great for its time. I later got a Tungsten, which was even better. Have both of them around here somewhere.

    • Re:Oh yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:34AM (#32055966)

      Graffiti 1 is, imo, still the best quick way to get text into a portable device. I'd take even G2 but no one will license the damn thing. With all the MIDs and Windows tablets getting cheaper and cheaper, I wish someone would port it. I'm sick of on-screen keyboards.

      • by pydev ( 1683904 )

        Unistrokes is even faster and simpler than either G1 or G2. Unfortunately, we're stuck with lousy on-screen keyboards courtesy of Apple and all the Apple imitators.

        • i can type 40 or 50 wpm on a "lousy" on screen keyboard and a pocket, foldable bluetooth keyboard is even faster.

          screw graffiti. keyboards are where it's at for mobile text input

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stokessd ( 89903 )

        I'm a huge fan of Graffiti 1, I used to sit in meetings taking notes without looking at the palmpilot, you can't do that with any on-screen keyboard. Graffiti 2 was crap. That said, I'm way faster with my on screen keyboard than I ever was with graffiti, I do consider it a step up in usability although I have to look at the device to use it.

        I like how the article is spread over as many pages as palm had models, maximizing ad viewing. After the first page of non-information I bailed like a good slashdot r

      • by 5pp000 ( 873881 ) *

        Graffiti 1 is, imo, still the best quick way to get text into a portable device.

        Then you must never have tried Fitaly []. This is a tap-optimized soft keyboard. I used it on a Tungsten T|3 for several years; it's easily more than twice as fast as Graffiti.

        While the layout could perhaps be improved further (another layout called Opti II is probably better), the concept is sound. It does take a little practice to get fast, but so what?

        The big problem, IMO, is that the market has decided it doesn't like st

    • I had a Treo 180 and then a 650, palm's PDAs were just clearly better than the competition back then. You could tell that a lot of thought and testing went into them - the UI was streamlined and optimized for everyday use, still quicker to navigate than any modern PDA I've used (having no eye candy whatsoever helps I guess). They were pretty well-built too - they'd survive more abuse than most cell phones of the day.

      The 650 was the first PDA that became my primary computer, I used it to take notes, browse w

    • Jeez, a Palm m100? Those came out around the time I'd given up on Palm. You're apparently pretty young, though, so you're forgiven.

      Still, even TFA seems pretty lacking in genuine geek cred. Lots of gushing about vapor patents filed in 2001, "long before Palm made phones." Well you know what? In 2001 I had one of these, [] and if you didn't mind carrying around a brick it wasn't a bad device at all. It was just a Palm III PDA melded to a phone, so you got the benefits of the address book and calendar. This was

  • Palm? (Score:3, Funny)

    by KuRa_Scvls ( 932317 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @08:31AM (#32055376)

    When are they releasing FacePalm?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by game kid ( 805301 )

      In an attempt to keep the Personal Systems Group viable, HP will bundle it with its new HeadDesk.

      The total cost will be bruising. :(

    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      When are they releasing FacePalm?

      They're waiting for a super secret product called PalmPlant to be ready. Then they'll bundle FacePalm and PalmPlant as FacePlant.

  • Moveable Display Device for Three-Dimensional Image Creation

    "Help us Obi Wan Kenobi, your'e our only hope!"

    Am I the only one who thought of that when I saw #8?

  • Am I the only one who likes number 1? And what is patentable about the wall mount??
  • Are these patents of real inventions (as in, products at least made but not released) or just patents of product ideas? Some [] of these are extremely unlikely to have existed (did they have foldable displays back in 2001?), though I could be wrong.

  • Bummer - I was always hoping a chord-writer was in the works, but no sign of it from the posted diagrams.

  • #11 was real! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Rozine ( 1345911 )
    I still own my foldable keyboard, although I got it wet and haven't gotten around to trying to fix it yet. It was awesome! I keep on wishing I had one for my current Palm TX...
  • "It's worth clicking through the obnoxious slide-show format to see them."

    No, it's not. I want my 5 minutes back.

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:33AM (#32055962)

    It's worth clicking through the obnoxious slide-show format to see them.

    It's worth installing autopager instead. If there's no existing preset for your site, (quite rare), you can roll your own, then contribute to the community. Takes a lot of the pain out of those damn 'click to see the next page full of ads' sites. []

  • You know the thread the other day about Apple not suing Palm? How about this patent: []

    Sounds a lot like the new iPhone to me...
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday May 01, 2010 @11:02AM (#32056138) Homepage Journal [] looks like a Handspring Visor module. [] looks like a ouija board.

    the former is more interesting... I wonder how much of the tech unique to the Visor (i.e. the expansion system) was actually developed at Palm. Surely it was imagined there, but that's not the same thing

  • <big rant>

    I used Palms for years and I'm sad that no modern smartphones or other gadgets can really replace them.

    Even the old ones were pretty fast (they ran programs directly in-place, so you didn't have to wait for them to load from flash into RAM, I believe).

    And so reliable (as long as you weren't running a crashy app on it). By that I mean the time between needing reset was MONTHS, not days like some smart phones.

    But I moved to a Treo, and the newer OS had become unreliable (jt tried to keep ol

  • "Segmented Keyboard for Portable Computer System" here []

    This one was. I had one for a few years. If you don't want to carry around a laptop, but want to have a full keyboard, the sj-series keyboards were great.
  • by turgid ( 580780 )

    I bought an m100 (2MB, 16MHz, 160x160 greyscale display) on implulse for £50 when I bought my first mobile phone back in 2000.

    The m100 was fun and surprisingly useful. It had a web browser that worked pretty well. I used to be able to sit in the pub with it and browse using the modem in the mobile phone over the IR link at a whopping 9600bps.

    What was really cool, though, was the SDK which you could download along with all the documentation for free from Palm and use on whatever system you liked (Lin

  • As much as I appreciate my iPhone, my Palm Pilot from 10 years ago was a better PDA. You know, Apple, something like a week view in the agenda ? I am ready to trade the GPS against this...
    • Yes, and hand-writing recognition. I'm afraid we have to blame Gary Trudeau for the absence of that feature from the iPhone. Also, something like a proper Today page would be a real improvement. Actual multi-tasking I can do without, but Graffiti works and I want to be able to see at first glance what I've got to do today.
      • I use LockInfo (jailbroken, of course), and it gives a nice "today page" overview. I use Toodledo for to-do items, and have it linked to my Google Calendar account, which syncs to my iPhone through the Exchange support. All of this adds up to the LockInfo calendar plugin displaying both calendar events and to-do items due on that day in the same list. LockInfo displays when the phone is still locked, and can even hide the unlock slider for more display space (the slider still works even though it's invis

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford