The secret truth about the Palm Pilot is that it is not a productivity device, organizer, address book or any of the other things that it pretends to be. It is, in fact a parasite.

In the early days, when Jeff Hawkins, Palm's chief technology officer, and president Donna Dubinsky still ran the show, Palm was just what it seemed to be -- a little piece of hardware with some handwriting recognition and basic little apps controlled by a stylus. Founded in 1992, they sold to US Robotics (modem-maker of my youth) and kept right on going, crossing the million-sale mark. In 1997, US Robotics was purchased by 3Com, at which point our story takes a turn...

From the time that Jeff and Donna started to work at 3Com, the could tell that something was amiss. There were certain labs that they could not enter. Refrigerated trucks came and went in the middle of the night. There were frequent visits from little-known government agencies who were looking to "improve productivity" with Palm. In a daring midnight raid, the PalmPilot founders discovered the horrible truth...

Every PalmPilot from the Palm III onward is actually a hard-shelled protective egg-sac. Inside the shell is a larval alien organism. In a secret deal with the U.S. government, 3Com purchased the PalmPilot to act as a dispersal mechanism for the coming alien invasion. The larva inside lives off heat from the user's hand and kinetic energy from the action of the stylus. In return the entity stimulates endorphin release to the user, creating a feeling of well-being, self-confidence and control. (Ever notice the smug look an executive gets when pulling out a PalmPilot?)

What's more, it learns about the life of its owner -- how he or she spends their day, who they know, what they like and don't like, passwords to accounts, favourite restaurants, kids' birthdays. It can hear voices, examine his or her walk, see through the touch screen to examine faces.

At a certain point, the larva hatches, consuming the owner cleanly and silently. It takes the place of the owner in society -- going to meetings, buying birthday presents, sending thank you cards to Grandma, but manipulating the affairs of the world in preparation for the Final Invasion. The transition is seamless (although their colour sense is sometimes off due to the green-tinted screen). Originally, the government thought to target the young through GameBoys, Walkmen, Rebocks with flashy LED's in the heels -- the silent replacement of the next generation. But after seeing the market appeal of the PalmPilot, the solution was clear: why wait for the young to grow up and assume control when you can target the power brokers at the peak of their influence. The transition to complete domination of the planet became a no-brainer.

So when you see some power-suited go-getter whip out their little PDA, ask yourself "Are they person? Are they an alien? How would I be able to tell?"