Donna Dubinsky

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Donna Dubinsky
Born (1955-07-04) July 4, 1955 (age 60)
Alma mater Yale University
Harvard Business School
Occupation Businessperson
Known for CEO of Palm and Handspring and Numenta
Spouse(s) Len Shustek

Donna Dubinsky (born July 4, 1955) is an American businesswoman who played an integral role in the development of personal digital assistants (PDAs) serving as CEO of Palm, Inc. and co-founding Handspring with Jeff Hawkins in 1995. Dubinsky co-founded Numenta in 2005 with Hawkins and Dileep George, based in Redwood City, CA. Numenta was founded to develop machine intelligence based on the principles of the neocortex. Dubinsky currently serves as CEO and board chair of Numenta.[1]

Dubinsky is a trustee of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California and the Peninsula Open Space Trust. She is also Successor Trustee for the Yale Corporation.

Fortune nominated her, together with Hawkins, to the Innovators Hall of Fame, while TIME named the pair as part of its Digital 50 in 1999 for their contribution to the development of the PDA.

Early years[edit]

Dubinsky grew up in midwest Michigan, where her father worked as a scrap dealer. She later attended Yale University where, as a student in Jonathan Edwards College, she majored in history and earned her bachelor's degree in 1977. Dubinsky then worked for the Philadelphia National Bank for a while before obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1981.

After graduating from Harvard Business School, she went to Apple Computer where she worked as a customer-support liaison. By 1985, she ran part of the company's distribution network. Discontent with the internal environment of the company led her to pursue work elsewhere.

In 1986, Bill Campbell recruited her to a senior position in Claris, a software subsidiary of Apple. Dubinsky was responsible for international sales and marketing, and within four years, her group was responsible for 50% of Claris's sales. However, Dubinsky decided to leave in 1991, when Apple did not allow Claris to become an independent company.

Palm Inc. and Handspring[edit]

After a year's sabbatical in Paris to study French, Dubinsky met Jeff Hawkins through the introductions of Bill Campbell and Bruce Dunlevie. Hawkins was looking for a CEO to manage Palm Inc.

In 1995, U.S. Robotics acquired Palm Inc. for US $44 million.[2] The first PalmPilot went on sale in April 1996. After a few months, sales started ramping quickly. In its first 18 months, more than one million PalmPilots had been sold. 3Com acquired U.S. Robotics, with its Palm subsidiary, in 1997.

Dubinsky, Hawkins, and Palm marketing manager Ed Colligan quickly became disillusioned with 3Com's plans for Palm, Inc. and left in June 1998 to found Handspring. Handspring became a leader in the market of smartphones with the Treo. In 2003, Handspring merged with Palm, Inc. The company, formed through the merger was named palmOne. In 2005, palmOne was renamed to Palm, Inc., returning to its roots, and the independent PalmSource was acquired by Access Corporation of Japan.


In March 2005, Donna Dubinsky, Jeff Hawkins and Dileep George, founded Numenta, Inc.[3] The company is based in Redwood City, California. Their goal is to create machine intelligence by developing theory based off the principles in the neocortex.

Numenta builds solutions that help companies automatically and intelligently act on machine generated data. The company claims that its biologically inspired machine learning technology is based on a theory of the neocortex first described in co-founder Jeff Hawkins’ book, On Intelligence. Grok, its first commercial product, is an anomaly detection system for IT Analytics. In addition, Numenta has created NuPIC (Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing) as an open source project.[4]

Harvard Alumni Achievement Award[edit]

On September 27, 2007, Donna Dubinsky was conferred the Harvard Business School’s highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award, by Dean Jay O. Light. The award was also given to: Ayala Corp. chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, A. Malachi Mixon of Invacare, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group and Hansjorg Wyss of Synthes. She was cited for “introducing the first successful personal digital assistant (PDA) and who is now developing a computer memory system modeled after the human brain.”[5]


  1. ^ "Numenta Company Page". Retrieved 2015-04-01. 
  2. ^ Niccolai, James (2010-04-28). "A Brief History of Palm". IDG. Retrieved 2015-04-01. 
  3. ^ Markoff, John (2005-03-24). "A New Company to Focus on Artificial Intelligence". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  5. ^ Abs-Cbn Interactive, JAZA receives Harvard alumni award

External links[edit]