Graffiti (Palm OS)

Graffiti (Palm OS)

Graffiti is the handwriting recognition software used in PDAs based on the Palm OS. Graffiti was originally written by Palm, Inc. as the recognition system for GEOS-based devices such as HP's OmniGo 120 or the Magic Cap-line and was available as an alternate recognition system for the Apple Newton MessagePad, when NewtonOS 1.0 couldn't recognize handwriting very well at all. Graffiti also runs on the Windows Mobile platform, where it is called "Block Recognizer", and on the Symbian UIQ platform as the default recognizer and was available for Casio's Zoomer PDA.

of upper-case characters that can be drawn blindly with a stylus on a touch-sensitive panel. Since the user typically cannot see the character as it is being drawn, complexities have been removed from four of the most difficult letters. "A'" "F", "K" and "T" all are drawn without any need to match up a cross-stroke.

At least one alternative to Graffiti has been developed by Professor Ken Perlin at New York University. [ [ Quikwriting: an alternative to Graffiti] ]


Graffiti was developed by Jeff Hawkins, who had previously created "PalmPrint" to recognize natural handwriting.Citation
last = Butter
first = Andrea
authorlink =
last2 = Pogue
first2 = David
author2-link = David Pogue
title = Piloting Palm
publisher = John Wiley & Sons
location = New York
date = 2002
pages = 62-66
doi =
isbn = 0471089656
] By using a simpler alphabet, computers could easily recognize handwriting. Hawkins believed that people would take the time to learn Graffiti just as people learn to touch-type. Hawkins recalled his insight: "And then it came to me in a flash. Touch-typing is a skill you "learn"."

Jeff Hawkins also envisioned a single area for writing letters on top of each other. Other pen computers used traditional writing from left to right. The drawback of this is that users run out of screen space after a few words. Graffiti used a different approach. Instead of writing letters normally, users would write one letter over top of the other; the computer would make sure that letters were recognized in the order they were written.

Jeff Hawkins called this system "PowerPalmPrint" or P3. Other engineers at Palm revised and expanded the alphabet that Hawkins had created. Joe Sipher and Ron Marianetti created more characters and punctuation and also designed a prototype of Graffiti that ran on a PC with a tablet peripheral.


The original Graffiti system was the subject of a lawsuit from Xerox, claiming it violated Xerox's patent relating to its "Unistrokes" technology (US patent|5596656, granted in 1997). The Unistrokes technology was invented at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) by David Goldberg. Palm got a demonstration of Unistrokes from PARC before they created their Graffiti system. During the original case, a court ruled that Palm violated Xerox's patent and ordered them to discontinue use of the original Graffiti system in further versions of its Palm OS software, which Palm did. It replaced the original Graffiti system with a licensed variant of the Jot system from Communication Intelligence Corporation, which Palm refers to as Graffiti 2. It differs from the original Graffiti system in various ways, though it does recognize some of the original keystrokes (except the input method for punctuation and "i", "k", "q", "t" and "4").

Palm later appealed the original court ruling both on the claim it violated Xerox's patent and as to the validity of the patent in the first place. An appeals court ruled in favor of Xerox with regard to the original ruling that Palm had violated its patent but sent the case back down to the lower court to decide whether the patent was valid to begin with. In 2004, a judge ruled in favor of Palm, saying Xerox's patent was not valid on the basis that "prior art references anticipate and render obvious the claim." [ [ PalmOne overturns Xerox Graffiti patent] , "The Register", 2004-05-24] Xerox appealed the ruling. [ [ Xerox To Appeal PalmOne Ruling] , TechNewsWorld, 2004-05-25] and won, obtaining $US22.5 million in retrospective licensing fees.Palm and Xerox agreed to not sue each other for seven years over certain patents, without specifying which patents. [ [,24897,19669443-26199,00.html Xerox collects from PalmOS] , "The Australian", July 4, 2006 ]

User acceptance

Within the Palm community, the original Graffiti has maintained a loyal following. Many users of later Palm devices have found ways to "hack" their PDA's in order to keep using Graffiti 1, which is no longer supported by Palm. Various third-party applications for Palm devices also seek to emulate the style of the original Graffiti.


ee also

* Graffiti 2
* Moon type

External links

* [ Howto: Replace Graffiti 2 with Original Graffiti]

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