PalmSource CTO On the Future of the PDA

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-02-12 Print this article Print

Interview: caught up with PalmSource CTO Larry Slotnick at this week's developer shindig to get an update on the new Palm OS, forthcoming plans and how the company integrated the BeOS into the Palm.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—More than 700 Palm developers gathered here for the annual PalmSource Developer Conference 2004. The company on Tuesday showcased its new versions of the Palm operating system, now called Garnet and Cobalt, as well as other products and licensing deals. PalmSource is the company responsible for developing and enhancing the popular Palm OS, while PalmOne, the former hardware division, is now just one of many developers licensing the code. The two companies split apart in October of 2003. The conference started with back-to-back keynotes from PalmSource CEO David Nagel and Chief Technical Officer Larry Slotnick.
After the keynote, I had a chance to sit down with Slotnick and Product Marketing Manager John Cook to explore where PalmSource, and the Palm market, are headed. Tell me about the development process of Palm 6.0, now called Cobalt. Slotnick: Actually it was two and a half years ago that the new effort began. There was the Palm team, some industry-renowned operating system and microkernel experts, and they produced a microkernel. Then along with the marketing they produced a product plan called Atlas. It was very expansive as well as expensive. Then about two years ago the Be [Inc.] acquisition occurred. The Be people came into the shop and started a wholesale redefinition, which we internally called Sahara. It was more manageable. We were able to merge the older Palm OS with the new Be OS, and that today is Cobalt. What did you get from Be? Slotnick: We got all the intellectual property, all the smart engineers, some of the managers and one member of the board. Our starting point for Cobalts multimedia features was Be multimedia and graphics. The design center was from Be, the teams [for the multimedia and graphics subsystems] were largely Be engineers. Something like 40 to 50 percent of the multimedia graphics is Be code. Some of the original thinking of path-based graphics, a PostScript-style of display is Be-based, and very compelling. The microkernel was designed and largely implemented by Palm people before the Be acquisition. Next Page: The Power of Multithreaded Applications, Handheld-style

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel