SLIDESHOW

A Palm Technology Timeline

Remember when Palm was king of the PDA? From the Pilot to the Pre, take a look at Palm's hits and misses.

When Palm Was King

Ah, the heady days of the late 1990s, when every dot-com stock was a guaranteed winner and when every day trader worth his salt carried around a Palm Pilot personal to keep track of all their information. Before the iPhone and before the BlackBerry, the Palm Pilot was the hottest game in town for business professionals who wanted portable devices capable of connecting to the Web. Although Palm's fortunes have fallen drastically since its heyday in the late '90s, the company has continued to release an intriguing array of devices that capture the market's attention, if not its dollars. In this slideshow we'll trace the evolution of Palm's products throughout the years from its first PDA to its latest smartphone.

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The Palm Pilot 1000

The device that started it all for Palm, the Pilot 1000 offered users 16MHz of processing power and a grand total of 128KB of memory at a retail price of $300. While this may seem laughably overpriced for such a primitive device by today's standards, at the time the Pilot 1000 was a cutting-edge device that spawned the entire PDA industry.

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The Palm III

After then-Palm owner 3Com was successfully sued by the Pilot Pen Corporation, Palm devices stopped being called "Pilots" and were simply assigned numbers. The Palm III was the first non-Pilot PDA and it featured 2MB of flash memory and sold for $400.

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The Palm VII

The Palm VII was notable as the very first Palm PDA to feature wireless data access sent through Palm's now-defunct Mobitex network dubbed Palm.net. The device at the time cost $600 and featured 2MB of flash memory and 16MHz of processing power.

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The Palm m100

Released at the peak of Palm's powers, the m100 was intended to be a "PDA-for-beginners" that cost less money (only $150!) and had smaller screens than other Palm devices. 2000 was also the year that Palm officially separated from 3Com and went public. If you decided to invest in Palm on Nov. 3 of that year, you would have paid more than $450 a share. Today, Palm shares are trading at just less than $6. Whoops!

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The Treo 600

The Treo 600 was the first smartphone released by Palm, Inc. after it acquired device manufacturer Handspring, which itself had been started by Palm's original founders and which had used Palm's operating system as the basis for its Treo devices. This particular smartphone featured both GSM and CDMA models and had 32MB of RAM and 144MHz of processing power.

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The Treo 700w

This was Palm's first device to use Windows Mobile and marked the first time Palm had strayed from employing its own proprietary Palm OS operating system. Released a decade after the original Pilot device, the Treo 700w showed just how far mobile device technology evolved over a 10-year span by offering 312MHz of processing power, a 16-bit color touchscreen and 64MB of memory. The Treo 700w was still horrifically overpriced compared with what today's smartphones go for, however, as it was originally priced at $500 with a two-year contract with Verizon.

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The Palm Foleo

One of the true disasters in the company's history, the Foleo was intended as a "smartphone companion" (though it was in actuality a mini notebook), the Foleo was canned by the company before it ever hit the market just months after Apple set the smartphone world on its head with the release of the iPhone (you may have heard of it… it's been somewhat successful). Although we'll never know for certain how the Foleo would have performed in the marketplace, it will likely go down as Palm's version of Microsoft BOB.

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The Palm Pre

A year and a half after Apple revolutionized smartphones with its iPhone, Palm released what it had hoped would be its big comeback product, the Palm Pre. The Pre was the first Palm device to feature the company's brand new operating system, known as webOS. Based on familiar Web standards such as CSS, XHTML and JavaScript, the webOS is layered to allow users to keep several applications open at once and to let them flip seamlessly between them.

The Pre was a lot like the Rolling Stones' attempt at disco in the late '70s – it was still a quality product, but it failed to generate the enthusiasm of the earlier hits. By the time HP purchased Palm yesterday, the company had found itself outside the big players in the smartphone market, as its webOS now ranks behind BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian and Android in terms of overall usage.

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Feedback

We want to hear from YOU! Does HP's purchase of Palm give it a chance to come back? Or are the company's best days behind it? Let us know in the comments!

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