Skip to content

Palm is a common term for a small-scale (hand-held) computer that runs Palm's PalmOS software.


The Palm OS platform is an open architecture that provides a basis for third-party developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to create mobile computing solutions. The platform consists of five components:

  • The reference hardware design
  • The device operating system called the Palm OS software
  • The HotSync conduit data synchronization technology
  • The platform component tools including an applications programming interface (API) that enables developers to write applications
  • The software interface capabilities to support hardware add-ons


Palm Computing was founded by Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and Ed Colligan. The original purpose of the company was to create handwriting recognition software for other devices (Graffiti). The initial idea for the devices came from Hawkins' habit of carrying a block of wood in his pocket.

The initial Palm device released in 1996 was called the Pilot. Because Pilot Pen Corporation brought forth a trademark infrigement case, the second generation device released in 1997 was named the PalmPilot.

The Palm was not the original PDA device released, but benefited from the failure of Apple's Newton.

The Palm OS initially featured personal information management (PIM) tools such as Calendar, Contacts, Memo Pad, Expense and Tasks. As later versions were released, more features were added. Here is a list of various Palm OS releases:

Version 3.1, 3.3, 3.5

Added support for color, multiple expansion ports, new processors, etc.

Version 4.0

Added a standard interface for external FS access

Version 5.0

First version to support Acorn Risc Machine (ARM) devices. Later versions which included OS 5.2, featured Graffiti 2. It began the separation of Palm OS and Palm One.

Presently, version 6.1 of the Palm OS is under development (Cobalt). Cobalt features a Linux-based kernel. There are presently no devices released using Palm OS 6.


**Address Book**: Allows the user to keep track of their contacts. Synchronized via HotSync manager
**Calculator**: Basic 4 function calculator
**Datebook**: Track appointments, birthdates and other important times during the year. Synchronized via HotSync manager
**Expenses**: Keep track of your spending habits.
**HotSync**: Application that ran on your desktop or portable PC or Mac to allow for calendars and contacts to easily be synchronized with Palm device.
**Memo Pad**: Write short notes.
**Note Pad**: Scribble notes in your natural writing language.
**To Do List**: Create a check list of items to accomplish. Synchronized via HotSync manager.
**Palm Photos**: Photo manager that allows sharing of photos between multiple palm devices.

Palm Pilot

The original creators of the Palm Pilot were Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky, and Ed Colligan. The idea of the palm pilot was established by Jeff Hawkins from a block of wood with writing on it.

`  Palm Pilot 1000` `  ` `  Palm Pilot 5000` `  ` `  Palm Pilot Personal` `  ` `  Palm Pilot Professional` `  `
Features Motorola 68328 processor 128 KB memory Palm OS 1.0 Dragonball processor 512 KB memory Palm OS 1.0 Dragonball processor 512 KB memory Palm OS 2.0 Dragonball processor 1 MB memory Palm OS 2.0

3Com Audrey

The 3Com Audrey was created to be a kitchen computer in 2000-2001. It was a mainly a used to access the Internet. Cisco then bought out 3Com and the Audrey was no more. One noticeable aspect of the Audrey is how people can hack it. They have turned it into anything from a web server to a chatting client. It runs QNX with PalmOS extensions. This allows it to be hacked extremely easily.

It runs on the Intel-compatible Cyrix-MediaGX processor. It uses Palm's HotSync technology to update the address book and date book with up to two Palms simultaneously. It uses a USB Ethernet controller to connect to the Internet. It also has built-in stereo speakers to play digital and streaming music. You can either use the clear pen to input data, or pull out the wireless keyboard. No graffiti is used.

It was discontinued on March 21, 2001. However, there is still an Audrey frenzy going on today.


This is a very neat model as it is a digital watch with the Palm OS version 4.1 installed. It comes in two brands: Abacus and Fossil.

Operating System Memory LCD Dimensions Other Notable Features
Palm OS version 4.1 8 MB 160 x 160 with backlight Touch screen 3 way rocker and back button USB for Windows and Macintosh Infrared port 3 hour lifespan between charges



Kyocera acquired QUALCOMM Incorporated's Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless phone business in February 2000 and incorporates QUALCOMM's CDMA technology in the development and manufacture of wireless phones. An agreement with Palm Inc. to license the Palm OS platform was reached by Kyocera and Palm after QUALCOMM's acquisition. It is the foundation for a suite of smartphones.


In September 1998, QUALCOMM introduced the pdQ smartphone which was the first CDMA digital wireless phone to integrate the Palm OS software. QUALCOMM’s CDMA handset business was later bought by Kyocera in February 2000.


Sony CliÈ




Handspring Visor

The original creators of the PalmPilot, Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky, and Ed Colligan, left Palm Computing after desputes with the parent company 3com. As a result, the trio founded Handspring in 1998. The first product released in 1999 was called the Handspring Visor, a clone of the original PalmPilot with minor additions, that used the newly created Palm OS. One of it's most prominent features was USB support and an expansion slot for memory cards, both of which were not yet popular at the time.

The Visor line includes:

  • Visor and Visor Deluxe
  • Visor Prism
  • Visor Platinum
  • Visor Edge
  • Visor Neo
  • Visor Pro


Treo manufacturers a variety of devices, including the LifeDrive, Treo 600, 650, 700w and 700p, Palm Z22 and Tx, and the Tungsten E2. Each of these devices is marketed at a different segment of the market. For example, the LifeDrive contains a 4GB integrated hard drive and is advertised as a portable multimedia device that plays videos and MP3s. The LifeDrive Also includes integrated WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. The Treo 600, 650, 700w and 700p are the company's Smartphones. The Treo 600, 650 and 700p runs Palm OS, while the 700w runs on Windows Mobile 5. The Z22, Tx, and Tungsten E2 are primarily designed to be personal organizers.


Forensics for Palm devices is a nascent field. There are several tools available for the image acquisition and analysis of Palm devices.


EnCase, published by Guidance Software, is a complete cyber forensics software package that handles all steps of the investigative process, from the acquisition to the report creation. The software includes built-in capabilities for performing MD5 hashing, data carving, deleted file recovery, and many other functions.

Although traditionally relegated to the realm of desktop computer forensics investigations, EnCase does support the acquisition and analysis of a limited number of Palm devices.


Paraben has a software application that is specifically designed for PDA forensics, PDA Seizure. This comprehensive tool allows PDA data to be acquired, viewed, and reported on, all within a Windows environment. The software comes equiped with quite a few key features. These features include the ability to encrypt saved case files, BlackBerry OS support, built-in recovery of Palm passwords, enhanced viewing on file data, complete physical and logical acquisition for Palm PDA devices, and many more. It has a few draw backs, in that some of the material acquired from the PDAs is hard to interpret by a person that is not computer savi. Although, on the other hand it has features like a search portion that allows you to enter a search term and PDA Seizure will bring up all files that have that term in them. This allows the investigator to look for case specific information easily and quickly.