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Personal Digital Assistants (PDA)

From this . . .


To this . . .

in 30 years

Psion Organiser1


iPhone 5


These days, we take the features of the iPhone and other Smartphones pretty much for granted, but in the same way that home computers have progressed from the low power, 8-bit, systems of the 1980s to the powerful high speed, multi-processor, computers that abound today, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) have come a long way in the same time. There are many, more comprehensive, sites on the internet dedicated to particular manufacturer's PDA ranges, the pages here are intended to provide a snapshot of the few PDAs that I have actually owned. 

Psion introduced the Psion Organiser in 1984, with an 0.9 MHz 8-bit Hitachi processor, 4K ROM, 2K RAM, a 16 character, single line, display and a 6x6 keyboard with its letters laid out alphabetically. The Organiser was the first affordable (99.95) "pocket" computer, but the first PDA really worthy of the name was the Psion Organiser II released two years later. There were a number of Organiser II models, ranging in price from 82 to 169, the top of the range model released in 1988 having a 20 character, four line, display, 64K ROM and 64K RAM. The Organiser II was capable of interfacing with external equipment and was used with industrial test equipment and in the retail market.

Later PDAs in the Psion range dropped the "Organiser" name, beginning with the Series 3, released in 1991. The Series 3 was a radically different design from the Organiser, it featured a compact "qwerty" keyboard and a much improved screen with 8 lines of 40 characters (240 X 80 pixels). The Series 3 had a NEC V30 4.7MHz 16-bit CPU, was available with 128kb (179.00) or 256kb 249.00) of RAM and featured built-in word processor, spread sheet and database applications.

The next model in the Psion range was the Series 3a, released in 1993,with an upgraded CPU, a 7.68 MHz NEC V30H (80C86), initially available with 256kb and 512kb RAM versions, 1Mb and 2Mb models were added in 1995. The Psion 3a had the same case design as the Series 3, but had a higher resolution screen with a 480x160 pixel display.

I bought my first PDA, a Psion Series 3a in 1993 and followed this with a Psion Series 5 in 1997.

After Psion led the way, a number of manufacturers such as Compaq (now part of HP) and Palm (ditto) entered the PDA market, Compaq in particular produced a nice range of devices, leading me to upgrade to the Compaq Ipaq 3970 in 2001.

Details of my Series 3a, Series 5 and Ipaq PDAs are available through the links on the menu bars.

I resisted the move to iPhone until 2008, when I succumbed to the lure of the iPhone 3G, now I would not be without my iPhones and iPads of course, and the days of separate mobile phones and PDAs has long gone. iPhone releases have been many and often, so I don't intend to document them here. The versions that I have had include the iPhone 4 (32GB), iPhone 5S (64GB), iPhone 6 (128GB), iPhone 8 (xGB) and iPhone X (256GB) (to date), all of which are well documented on Wikipedia. I have added a few pages on my iPads though



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