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Tech Talk: The Forefather of the Smartphone As Electronic Road Kill?

It’s only natural that people associate mobile technology with UPS. Why? Mainly because of the nifty handheld computers our drivers carry and ask you to sign when they’re delivering a package that requires your signature. At UPS we call them DIADs – short for Delivery Information Acquisition Devices.

What began more than 20 years ago as a bulky, brown clipboard with a monochrome screen has grown into a sleek, curvy, handheld computer with just about every wireless communications option known to man. You could call the DIAD the forefather of the smartphone.

Of course, that original DIAD and the versions since are quite a bit hardier than the typical smartphone. You can fling, drop or step on the DIAD without killing it. Just ask a UPS driver! Of course, if a driver runs over a DIAD with a delivery truck – it’s electronic road kill.  

In 1993, UPS introduced the DIAD II. It communicated via a nationwide network of 100 cellular carriers brought together by UPS to provide communication service for all those DIAD-equipped drivers, making UPS the world’s largest cellular user at that time.  The information uploads performed over that cellular network became accessible via the Worldwide Web in 1995 when UPS enabled customers to track their packages directly on the Internet.  Fast forward to today. On an average day, UPS gets about 26.2 million online tracking requests. 

UPS drivers aren’t the only ones who need shipping info in the palm of their hands.  Today, you can access UPS on the go from your smartphone. And DIADs are instrumental in making it possible for you to track your package using that iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid.

Just don’t run over any of ‘em with a truck.

Category: Business Insights
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