A communication system (20) is provided with multiple purpose personal communication devices (50 and 150). Each communication device (50 and 150) includes a touch-sensitive visual display (60 and 160) to communicate text and graphic information to and from the user and for operating the communication device (50 and 150). Voice activation (78) and voice control capabilities (76) are included within communication devices (50 and 150) to perform the same functions as the touch-sensitive visual display (60 and 160). The communication device includes a built-in modem (82), audio input and output (52 and 53), telephone jacks (86), and wireless communication (90). A plurality of application modules (100) are used with personal communication devices (50 and 150) to perform a wide variety of communication functions such as information retrievable, on-line data base services, electronic and voice mail. Communication devices (50 and 150) and application modules (100) cooperate to allow integrating multiple functions such as real time communication, information storage and processing, specialized information services, and remote control of other equipment into an intuitively user friendly apparatus. The system (20) includes both desktop (150) and hand-held communication devices (50) with the same full range of communication capabilities provided in each type of communication device (50 and 150).