Top ten PDA failures


MarcoThere have been no shortage of interesting mobile devices over the years, some of them successes and some less so.  If you want to take a trip down PDA memory lane then don’t miss the article on MLAgazine that lists the "Top Ten PDA Failures".  I am ashamed to admit how many of the gadgets on this list that I personally owned (4) even though I don’t think they were failures in the strictest sense of the term.  It surprises me that the author considers the Apple Newton the biggest failure, while admitting he/she still uses his MessagePad 130 to this day.  I think in a big sense the Newton paved the way for not only higher end PDAs but other pen-enabled computers too.  Of the ten devices listed two are still available in quantity on eBay so maybe they are not such a failure after all.



Couldn’t agree more. The Series 5 was an impressive little machine, let down by dodgy build quality (all my Psions had hardware problems of some kind) and the failure of the company to fix software bugs and write new drivers, develop the hardware and – of course – market the products properly. Actually, the Psion’s fate reminds me of the Acorn Archimedes series of computers, also British made and way ahead of the pack with an advanced 32 bit RISC CPU and OS in 1987.

Marc Orchant

I loved my Newtons (100 and 130). Also, I was surprised not to see the Psion Series 5 on the list – another brilliant, but utlimately doomed palmtop that was way ahead of the curve. I still have my Psion in a closet somewhere and, like the old Commodore VIC-20 I also have stashed away, it’s a keepsake reminder of an earlier day. In my road warrior days, I constantly blew people away on airplanes as I typed away on the Psion.


You can’t underestimate the importance of standing in the store and making the device recognize your own handwriting. I never could get any Newton to recognize my handwriting, nor the earlier edition of the Tablet PC. The Palm nay-sayers were the ones who didn’t get that you had to learn Graffiti, but anyone who tried it could get it to recognize nearly all of their marks. It’s remarkable how accurate the Tablets have become, and more remarkable how clever it was to come up with a Graffiti system in the first place. I’m amazed at how I routinely throw more computing and storage power into my book bag than whole rooms full of equipment research universities had when I was a kid.

The author of the article, by the way, calls the failures failures to sell, not failures to be good, useful products. They were failures of the public, not the designers or manufacturers.


Vidge, welcome to the early adopters club with you U750P. The HP200LX was a great MS-DOS computer that was ahead of its time for sure. They are still actively sold and used even today, many years later. But they couldn’t do Windows. :)


“The HP 300LX was a clamshell notebook that could fit in the palm of a hand that also ran a full version of MS DOS.”

Are we back to square 1 with the UPCs?

BTW – I never owned any on the list

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