personal communicator

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personal communicator

A concept for a handheld mobile device that was co-created by Toronto engineer Robert J. Fraser in 1991, who also coined the term. The personal communicator was conceived to provide always-on, wireless connectivity to a nationwide network for information retrieval and transactions (stock market, weather, banking, etc.) as well as calendar synchronization, messaging and email. Contacts and to-do lists were also envisioned.

Humble Beginnings
At least two devices with the personal communicator moniker appeared within a couple years. AT&T offered the EO in 1993, and IBM, in conjunction with BellSouth, introduced the Simon in 1994. Apple's Newton was introduced in the same time frame, but had only a fax/modem and infrared communications. All of these handhelds were underpowered for the tasks at hand and never took off.

An Eventual Reality
The functionality in Fraser's device did materialize a decade later when the Internet became ubiquitous and devices such as the BlackBerry emerged. After the turn of the century, wireless PDAs using cellular networks (true personal communicators) became a reality, and they eventually evolved into the smartphone. See PDA and smartphone.
References in periodicals archive ?
On the other hand, the AT&T EO Personal Communicator has fully-integrated communications devices that sets ft apart from other PDAs.
For example, she says, a professional on the road doesn't have to wait to go back to the office to retrieve e-mail messages--she can read them wherever she is with her personal communicator.
The personal communicator will radically alter our sense of who talks to whom, about what, when, and where.
The V200 Personal Communicator from Motorola is a unique communication device that will deliver quality voice, text messaging and Internet access, that truly meets the needs of many of our customers," said Gary Schulman, president of wireless data and Internet services for Verizon Wireless.
The Personal Communicators, worth pounds 99, are ideal.
For example, that same claims adjuster might need a diagram of an older-model car to be sent directly to his or her personal communicator for the accident report to be completed.

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