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Palm OS

Palm OS is an operating system made by PalmSource, Inc for personal digital assistants (PDAs) manufactured by PalmOne, Inc and other licensees.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Built In Applications for Palm OS
3 Add-on Applications


Palm OS was originally developed by Jeff Hawkins for use on the original Palm Pilot by 3Com. Version 1.0 was present on the original Pilot 1000 and 5000 and version 2.0 was introduced with the PalmPilot Personal and Professional.

With the launch of the Palm III series version 3.0 of the OS was introduced. Incremental upgrades occurred with the release of versions 3.1, 3.3 and 3.5, adding support for colour, multiple expansion ports, new processors and other various additions.

A Palm m130 running OS 4.1

Version 4.0 was released with the m500 series, and later made available as an upgrade for older devices. This added a standard interface for external FS access (such as SD cards) and improved telephony libraries, security and UI improvements.

Version 5.0 was the first version released to support ARM devices. Described as a stepping stone to full ARM support, Palm apps are run in a emulated environment called PACE, decreasing speed but allowing great compatibility with old programs. New software can take advantage of the ARM processors with ARMlets, small units of ARM code. It was also roughly this time when Palm began to separate its hardware and OS efforts, eventually becoming two companies, PalmSource, Inc (OS) and PalmOne (hardware). Further releases of PalmOS 5 have seen a standardised API for hi-res and dynamic input areas, along with a number of more minor improvements.

Palm OS 5.2 and 4.2 (and later) also feature Graffiti 2, due to the loss of a patent infringement lawsuit with Xerox. This is based on Jot by CIC.

PalmSource, Inc has announced that it will be releasing Palm OS 6.0 to licencees in late December 2003. This is to be the completion of the migration to ARM devices, and allow ARM native applications along with improved mulitmedia support.

Built In Applications for Palm OS


The Palm's Address program stores personal information, keyed by any of several user-definable categories. Entries are displayed and sorted in last name, first name order (this can be changed only to Company, Last Name order). There are five slots for phone or e-mail, each of which may be designated Work, Home, Fax, Other, E-mail, Main, Pager or Mobile (the slot designations cannot be changed).

For the Tungsten T3, this application is called Contacts.


Calc turns the Palm into a standard 4-function pocket calculator with three shades of purple and blue buttons contrasting with the two red clear buttons. It sports square root and percent keys and has one memory.

Date Book

Date Book shows a daily or weekly schedule, or a simple monthly view. The daily schedule has one line per hour, between user-selected begin and end times. Clicking on an empty line creates a new appointment. Empty lines are croweded out by actual appointments, whose start and stop times are shown by default bracketed in the left margin.

An appointment can be heralded by an alarm, any number of minutes, hours or days before it begins. These alarms sound even when the unit is switched off.

Appointments can recur in a specified number of days, weeks, months or years -- and can contain notes.

For the Tungsten T3, this application is called Calendar and allows catagorisation of events, as well as featuring a summary screen similar to that found on PocketPC devices.


The Expense application allows a user to track common business expenses. No totals are calculated on the Palm. The user must synch with a host computer and view the expense data in a worksheet (templates for Microsoft Excel are supplied).

Memo Pad

The Memo Pad can hold notes of up to 4,000 characters, keyed to user-configurable categories. Memos are ordered in two ways: alphabetically, and manually (which allows the user to choose the order of the memos). Memo Pad is for text, not for drawings. For this reason, text in Memo Pad must be entered using the Graffiti alphabet.

For the Tungsten T3, this application is called Memos, and the limit has been increased to 32Kb.

Note Pad

Drawings go in Note Pad. You can squeeze up to 10 words per page, if your writing is neat. Otherwise, it's better to put text in Memo Pad. There are three sizes of drawing crayon, plus an eraser. It's possible to draw a very simple map.

To Do List

Also referred to as Task list.
This is a convenient place to create personal reminders and prioritize the things you have to do.
Each To Do List item may also have: a priority, categories (to organize and view items in logical groups), attached Note (to add more description and clarification of the task).
To Do List item can be sorted by: due date, priority or category.

For the Tungsten T3, this application is called Tasks and alarms may be assigned to tasks.

Add-on Applications

There are many successful Palm add-on applications. As of August 2003, there are more that 19,000 add-on applications available for the Palm platform, including freeware (free for all), shareware (try before you buy), and commercial applications.