Fifteen years after the release of the iPhone, it’s easy to overlook the role early innovators like Palm played in popularizing the smartphone. By the time HP unceremoniously shut down the company in , Palm had struggled for a few years to carve out a niche for itself among Apple and Google. But ask anyone who had a chance to use a in the late ‘90s or early 2000s and they’ll tell you how fondly they remember the hardware and software that made the company’s vision possible. Now, it’s easier than ever to see what made Palm OS so special back in its day.
This week, archivist Jason Scott uploaded a database of Palm OS apps to the . In all, there are about 560 programs to check out, including old favorites like and . Even if you don’t have any nostalgia for Palm, it’s well worth spending a few minutes with the collection to see how much – or, in some cases, little – things have changed since Palm OS was a dominant player in the market.
For instance, there’s an entire section devoted to shareware and it’s interesting to see just how much some developers thought it was appropriate to pay for their software. Want to use the full version of ? Just send $15 by post to DDT Investments in Plaistow, New Hampshire.
In an interview with , Scott said it took about six months to get the emulator to work with the Internet Archive. There’s still some work to be done. Specifically, some of the more obscure apps are missing descriptions and metadata. Scott also hopes to write instructions for each program. Still, short of buying an old Palm device off of eBay, this is the best way to experience a bygone computing era. That's because allows you to navigate through Palm OS. You can even launch the database from your phone and there's full support for Palm's Graffiti handwriting recognition system. If you want to help Scott with the project, .