Did you dream of it? The PalmPilot returns as an emulator on the Internet Archive

Nathan Le Gohlisse

Hardware Specialist

November 29, 2022 at 5:45 p.m.


Palm Pilot-2 © © Palm

© Palm

Superstars at the end of the 90s, the PDAs designed by Palm gradually fell into oblivion. An archivist inhabited by a duty of memory with regard to these ancestors of the smartphone has put online a library of some 560 Palm OS applications.

The smartphone is ubiquitous today, and if it exists in the form that we now know it thanks to the iPhone (at least in large part), it also owes many of its genes to Palm PDAs, and in particular to the Palm Pilot. Launched in 1997, the device was among the first to be able to rely on both a successful operating system, Palm OS 2.0, and a large volume of compatible applications.

Palm OS is back

This effective and popular product, commercial success in its time, returns this week in an unexpected form. Jason Scott, archivist and historian working in particular for the Internet Archive, has posted on the platform a collection of 560 Palm OS applications, emulated and fully functional. Accessible at this address, the latter allow you to get a good idea of ​​the progress made in terms of mobile applications. We can also see that, in some cases, things haven’t changed that much.

As reported Engadget, these applications are also an opportunity for an astonishing return to the past in terms of payment methods for certain services. To unlock the full version of StockCalc, for example, the user was asked to send $15 by post to the headquarters of DDT Investments in Plaistow, New Hampshire. Difficult to do more old school…

A project that is not yet complete

From a slightly more technical point of view, these applications work thanks to the CloudpilotEmu emulator for PalmOS. Designed to work online, the latter nevertheless required nearly 6 months of work to be able to function directly (and correctly) from the Internet Archive, confided Jason Scott to The Verge.

However, he explains that there is still a lot to do on this project. For example, descriptions and metadata are missing for some of the lesser-known apps. As indicated The Verge, Jason Scott also hopes to be able to write instructions for each program individually in order to fine-tune the whole. Note that it is theoretically possible to get your hands dirty by contacting the archivist by DM directly on his Twitter.

Sources: The Verge, Engadget

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