personal digital assistant

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personal digital assistant

(PDA), lightweight, hand-held computercomputer,
device capable of performing a series of arithmetic or logical operations. A computer is distinguished from a calculating machine, such as an electronic calculator, by being able to store a computer program (so that it can repeat its operations and make logical
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 designed for use as a personal organizer with communications capabilities; also called a handheld. A typical PDA has no keyboard, relying instead on special hardware and pen-based computerpen-based computer,
computer that uses software to enable it to accept handwriting or drawing as a form of input. A stylus, which may contain special electronic circuitry, may be used to write on the computer display or on a separate tablet.
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 software to enable the recognition of handwritten input, which is entered on the surface of a liquid crystalliquid crystal,
liquid whose component particles, atoms or molecules, tend to arrange themselves with a degree of order far exceeding that found in ordinary liquids and approaching that of solid crystals.
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 display screen. In addition to including such applications as a word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, and address book, PDAs are used as notepads, appointment schedulers, and wireless communicators for sending and receiving data, faxes, and electronic-mail messages. Introduced in 1993, PDAs achieved only modest acceptance during the remainder of the decade due to their relatively high price and limited applications, but improved software and lower prices subsequently led to more widespread use. In the early 21st cent., however, smartphones (see cellular telephonecellular telephone
or cellular radio,
telecommunications system in which a portable or mobile radio transmitter and receiver, or "cellphone," is linked via microwave radio frequencies to base transmitter and receiver stations that connect the user to a conventional
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) equipped with a wide range of applications supplanted PDAs. See also palmtoppalmtop
or hand-held personal computer,
lightweight, small, battery-powered, general-purpose programmable computer. It typically had a miniaturized full-function, typewriterlike keyboard for input and a small, full color, liquid-crystal display for output.
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.

personal digital assistant

[‚pərs·ən·əl ‚dij·əd·əl ə′sis·tənt]
(computer science)

Personal Digital Assistant

(computer)
(PDA) A small hand-held computer typically providing calendar, contacts, and note-taking applications but may include other applications, for example a web browser and media player. Small keyboards and pen-based input systems are most commonly used for user input.

The Apple Newton was a fairly early example.

PDA

(Personal Digital Assistant) An earlier handheld computer for managing contacts, appointments and tasks. Performing the functions of a computer-based personal information manager (see PIM), PDAs were superseded by smartphones, which provide PDA functions along with everything else (see smartphone).

Newton, the Pioneer - Palm, the Revolution
In 1993, Apple's pen-based MessagePad, commonly known as the "Newton," was the pioneer in this field, and then-Apple CEO John Sculley actually coined the term PDA. However, PalmPilots, introduced three years later, popularized the technology. See Newton, Palm and personal communicator.


The Newton
Ahead of its time, Apple's Newton pioneered the PDA concept in 1993 and later spun off Newton, Inc. to specialize in the technology. Menus were tapped and text was entered with a stylus. (Image courtesy of Apple Inc.)







The PalmPilot
Introduced in 1996, the PalmPilot was the first model of the Palm family, which started a revolution in handheld organizers. (Image courtesy of palmOne, Inc.)







Palm Treo
In 2002, the Palm Treo was a phone and PDA in one unit. Along with the BlackBerry, this was the start of combining applications with a phone. (Image courtesy of Palm, Inc.)

virtual assistant

(1) An individual who performs administrative functions for clients. See human virtual assistant.

(2) An application that provides a verbal exchange of questions and answers in the user's native language. Although virtual assistants are a feature in tablets, desktop computers and table top units, their inclusion in the smartphone made the phone an incredibly useful electronic companion.

Also called a "personal assistant," "digital assistant," "intelligent agent" and "voice assistant," Apple popularized the concept in 2011 with Siri, and Google, Microsoft and Amazon followed. See Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Amazon Echo.

Virtual assistants are also used to make phone calls and set alarms, reminders and calendar appointments, as well as turn on lights, music and other smart home devices. Over time, results become more personalized. Virtual assistants are the first embodiment of artificial intelligence used on a daily basis by millions of people (see AI). See chatbot and smart home.

A Reverse Evolution
Whereas countless applications evolved from desktop to mobile, the opposite occurred with virtual assistants. Starting out in phones and tablets, they migrated to the desktop and table top (see Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod).

Heavy Lifting in the Cloud
The virtual assistant is primarily driven by knowledge bases on the Internet. However, that vast amount of information is combined with the user's own contacts and calendar to provide very personalized assistance. See knowledge base, Semantic Web, AI and S Voice.