Feeling Nostalgic for the Days of PalmPilots? Head to the Internet Archive.

Hundreds of apps from the old-school device are now accessible on modern smartphones

A PalmPilot handheld device from the 1990s. The Internet Archive is emulating apps from the device.
Remember the days before USB connections were ubiquitous?
SSPL via Getty

In the years before smartphones entered widespread use, plenty of people carried around handheld devices capable of running countless apps and connecting to computers. This was the era of the personal digital assistant (the other kind of PDA), a point in time that increasingly feels like a dress rehearsal for the present moment of app stores and high-tech phones.

Technology has largely advanced past that moment in time, but the idea of scaled-back, old-school tech still possesses an appeal. Freewrite, a company that makes standalone writing devices that consciously avoid internet connections, has developed a following among writers — and it’s hard not to be reminded of the early 2000s when looking at its interface. And now, PalmPilot apps are also making a comeback of sorts, via the Internet Archive.

As Engadget reports, the Internet Archive is now home to well over 500 apps that first appeared on the PalmPilot. The initiative is led by Jason Scott, who has long advocated for the importance of archiving digital history.

As Scott told The Verge, the process of getting the emulator running and embeddable took six months. But the whole thing is truly a sight to behold — and encompasses everything from productivity software and games to various programs available only on a trial basis or as shareware.

It’s a welcome trip into the history of personal computing, but it also has some unexpected resonances with the present moment. And who knows? Maybe your favorite app of 2002 will turn out to be your favorite app of 2022.

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