What is a Personal Digital Assistant? PDA Facts that Millennials Should Know

People who were born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s may have a slight to zero idea of what a personal digital assistant or PDA is. If you haven’t heard about PDAs before but you’re curious to know what it really is, then here are some facts that will make you understand how PDAs work.

1. PDAs are the predecessors of smartphones.

Long before smartphones ruled the digital industry, PDAs were the hottest items in the 1990s up to the early 2000s. Many of them featured a small virtual keyboard, while some better models had handwriting recognition capability—which made it easier and faster for users to input information or text into their device.

2. The term “PDA” came from Apple.

It was John Sculley, who was the CEO of Apple, who coined the term in 1992. However, PDAs had actually existed almost a decade before that.

3. PDAs were initially conceived to be a digital version of a daily planner.

Back then, PDAs were produced to be a digital organizer that could be carried anywhere and capable of sharing data with a computer. So think of a PDA as a daily planner and extension of a PC in electronic form. Originally, PDAs were mainly used as an address book, schedule tracker, and digital notebook. Over time, more and more apps were added to enhance the functionalities of PDAs.

4. The term got a makeover in the recent years.

PDA has taken on a different meaning since the 2010s. Familiar with Siri, Alexa, and Cortana? They’re now considered the modern-day personal digital assistants. But then, the classic PDAs the world loved in the past decades remain and are still existing.

Far from being just relics of the past, PDAs were a big thing in the past and continue to thrive in the present day.

3 Reasons You Need a PDA: The Benefits of Having a Personal Digital Assistant

Are you considering to get yourself a PDA but you’re not sure if you really need one? Aside from a smartphone, another great investment to have—especially for busy people who have a lot of things to attend to—is a personal digital assistant.

Here are the ways PDAs can make your life a lot easier:

Staying organized

This is the main reason people still go for PDAs. If you’re still in the habit of jotting down notes and your to-do lists, grocery lists, etc. using a pen and paper, it’s time you speed things up by going digital. A PDA gives you the power to do that and so much more in just a matter of clicks and strokes. It can save you from the hassle of having to go through piles of paper just to find a single note that you need to retrieve at the moment.

With a PDA at your disposal, you can do a lot in less the time, thanks to the following features:

  • To-do list
  • Sticky notes/memo pad
  • Email
  • Calendar/datebook
  • Calculator
  • Address book
  • Onscreen keyboard
  • Handwriting recognition


PDAs easily fit into the smallest of pockets, thanks to their lightweight and compact size. So rather than lugging around a bulky paper planner, you can just bring a portable digital planner with you. This feature makes PDAs ideal for people who travel, move around attending client meetings, or go on business trips often.

Entertainment features

During downtimes, it’s easy to get bored. To kill time, you can use your PDA to watch videos or listen to music. You can even use it to store images that you can view on the device later on.

A device as small and portable as a PDA can do so much and help you do things conveniently. So if you’re a busy person trying to juggle a lot of tasks and activities, owning a PDA is a wise move.