personal digital assistant (PDA)

PDA (personal digital assistant) is a term for any small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use, often for keeping schedule calendars and address book information handy.

PDA (personal digital assistant) is a term for any small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use, often for keeping schedule calendars and address book information handy. The term handheld is a synonym. Many people use the name of one of the popular PDA products as a generic term. These include Hewlett-Packard's Palmtop and 3Com's PalmPilot.

Most PDAs have a small keyboard. Some PDAs have an electronically sensitive pad on which handwritng can be received. Apple's Newton, which has been withdrawn from the market, was the first widely-sold PDA that accepted handwriting. Typical uses include schedule and address book storage and retrieval and note-entering. However, many applications have been written for PDAs. Increasingly, PDAs are combined with telephones and paging systems.

Some PDAs offer a variation of the Microsoft Windows operating system called Windows CE. Other products have their own or another operating system.

This was first published in June 2007

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