September 22, 2000

Dinner Honors Entrepreneur

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One can forgive Jeffrey C. Hawkins ’79 for not finding the time to visit Cornell in the last 15 years — he was busy revolutionizing the way we communicate and do business.

Hawkins, the inventor of the ubiquitous PalmPilot, accepted the prestigious Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2000 Award at a banquet in his honor last night in front of a large audience in the Statler Ballroom — including many Cornell students who hope to follow in Hawkins’ successful entrepreneurial footsteps one day.

In a brief speech, Hawkins humorously shared some of his fondest memories of Cornell, with the aid of slides. He did not discuss his impressive list of accomplishments in the business world, opting to instead save those experiences for his public talk today. Hawkins will speak at 4 p.m. in Statler Auditorium.

Hawkins is currently the chair and chief products officer of Handspring Inc., a company that he co-founded in 1998. Handspring markets handheld computers that use the Palm operating system and, in addition, employ expandable hardware that allows add-ons. Hawkins founded Palm Computing in 1994 after creating the original line of PalmPilot products. He sold the company in 1995 to U.S. Robotics.

“He revolutionized the market for handheld computers,” said President Hunter R. Rawlings III, who presented the award last night to Hawkins. “He has a very deep desire to solve major intellectual problems. He is an entrepreneur in the deepest sense of the word.”

Hawkins remains connected to the world of higher education, even though he has not made it back to his alma mater too often.

“I love visiting universities,” he said. “There is a purpose to them. I love the people at universities. They are intellectuals.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was established in 1984, and is now managed by the Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise Program, a combined initiative of nine colleges that, among many purposes, connects aspiring Cornell entrepreneurial undergraduate and graduate students with successful alumni.

Last year’s recipient was Jay S. Walker ’78, the founder of

Archived article by Aron Goetzl