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The PalmPilot was the first generation of the PDA (personal digital assistant) product line that Palm, Inc. released in 1996. There were two models: the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000, which had 128 kB and 512 kB of memory, respectively. They were the devices that launched the Palm brand and PDA technology into the mass market, doing what previous generations of PDAs such as the Apple Newton had tried to do in earlier years.
Although the term PalmPilot referred only to specific models of Palm's PDAs, many people used the term more generically, referring to any PDA manufactured by Palm, Inc.
PalmPilots are, by today's standards, laughably slow devices with their single-core Motorola processors clocking only at 16 MHz, up to 512 kB of memory and a non-backlight monochrome LCD with only 160 ×160 pixels of resolution. However, at the time, PalmPilots were considered very advanced.
Palm was founded in 1992 as Palm Computing, with the original purpose of creating handwriting recognition software (PalmPrint) and personal information management (PalmOrganizer) software for devices running the PEN/GEOS OS called Zoomer devices. But they later realized that they could create better hardware as well. Learning from the mistakes and successes of earlier PDAs such as the Apple Newton, which was quite bulky and heavy, feature-packed yet poorly executed, the resulting design of the PalmPilot was a device that was small, light, had minimal features but emphasized the user experience and how it could allow the user to go about tasks quickly and easily.
The PalmPilot became very popular when it was released and singlehandedly launched Palm as a household name along with the popularity of the PDA as a mobile device.