1996: Palm Pilot
The Palm Pilot (later PalmPilot) was once among the hallowed ranks of Xerox, Kleenex and Google: a trademark used as a generic term to represent an entire industry. It started with three engineers who worked for U.S. Robotics subsidiary Palm Computing, developing a portable system for their handwriting recognition software, Graffiti.
The $300 Pilot 1000 PDA was the result, housing a 160-x-160-pixel monochrome display with a pen-operated input pad in a frame roughly two-thirds the size and one-third the weight of Apple's Newton. The killer app: personal organization software that could sync smartly with PCs and Macs alike. The Palm OS provided an effective and affordable platform for PDAs and, later, smartphones, and ushered in the world of ubiquitous handheld computing.