What was the first ‘smartphone’ like?

19th August 2014
What was the first 'smartphone' like?

If you find yourself complaining that your smartphone battery runs out too quickly or that it's too slow, spare a thought for those who used the first such device 20 years ago.

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator went on sale on August 16th 1994 and while it wasn't necessarily called a smartphone back then, it did boast a number of the features that our current gadgets can perform. These include sending emails, having a calendar and making phone calls. 

BBC News reports that London Science Museum intends to display this precursor in its Information Age gallery from October onwards to commemorate this milestone anniversary. 

However, while consumers across the globe are desperate for the latest technologies and wait with baited breath to see what new models the likes of Apple and Samsung are set to release next, the IBM Simon did not fare quite so well.

Curator Charlotte Connelly said: "It only had an hour's battery, it was $899 (£538) and there was no mobile internet at the time. So it wasn't very successful."

So, if you think your phone's forever running out of juice, it can't be quite as bad as those who had stumped up all that money for this 500 g smartphone forerunner, which made a quiet exit from the market about two years after its inception.

However, there were aspects about it that pointed towards the developments we have seen in recent years, suggesting the makers of the IBM Simon were ahead of their time.

"It looks like a grey block but it's not as big as you'd imagine. It had a stylus and a green LCD screen, which is similar in size to the iPhone 4. In fact, it's not a bad looking thing," Ms Connelly pointed out. 

More than 800 objects will be showcased as part of the museum's exhibition to show how far technology has come in recent years. 


Grace Dickenson: It feels like my smartphone only has an hour's battery life some days!

Pete Quentin: Can you imagine what technology will be like in 20 years' time?!

Lily Rickson: I don't know what I'd do without my smartphone…how times have changed. 

Posted by The EnerGenie

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