Palm and PalmPilot apps keep alive thanks to the Internet Archive

Summary: The Internet Archive is advancing a new journey down the (technological) lanes of memory by hosting hundreds of Palm OS applications on the Internet for your emulation pleasure. Relive the past of the forerunners of mobile computing has never been easier.

The Internet Archive (IA) is once again busy preserving the history of computing and digital culture with a new preservation project: a “software library” full of Palm and PalmPilot applications. With Palm OS emulation, users can now experience how people managed their digital things on the go before the smartphone became the most loved (hated?) electronic gadget in the world.

Software Library: Palm and PalmPilot The collection was posted online by Jason Scott, an IA archivist who has been dealing with old computer stuff and files for decades. The library consists of over 500 applications, including classic games, shareware and system applications. To run the application, the entire emulated instance of Palm OS must be loaded in the browser.

Scott said half a year was spent on embedding the existing CloudpilotEmu – web emulator for PalmOS – based on the IA web platform, offering a rich list of features, including realistic emulation of timers and device speed, persistent state saving, direct installation and export of .prc and .pdb files, sound emulation, keyboard input, and integration with clipboard. For more convenience, users can download applications to their smartphone using a mobile browser.

Palm developed a line of personal digital assistant (PDA) devices and mobile phones released in the 90s. Years before the original iPhone, Android, or even the venerable BlackBerry, the Palm PDAs ushered in the “laptop” concept.

Palm Inc. was bought by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2010, which eventually sold the trademark to a Chinese corporation after giving the platform one last (and failed) chance with the Palm-developed webOS project.

According to Scott, the PalmOS emulation hosted on the Internet Archive still needs work, especially in terms of metadata. The digital archivist even plans to add instructions for each of the applications already available to the public.

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