Definition

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. 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 Apple's Newton, which has been withdrawn from the market, was the first widely-sold PDA that accepted handwriting.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 last updated in June 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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