The smartphone celebrates 20 years

18/08/2014

The Smartphone Celebrates 20 Years

August 16th marked the 20th anniversary of the world’s first smartphone, the IBM Simon. It went on sale to the public in 1994, three years before the term ‘smartphone’ was even coined.

Although the technology that modern day smartphones, such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5 feature, was not available in the 1990s, the IBM Simon did add a number of computing features alongside being a working mobile phone.

Aesthetically, the IBM Simon had a chunky black frame and a touchscreen, complete with an aerial - a far cry from today’s smartphones!

With 1MB of memory, and a 2400 bps modem, the touchscreen phone was able to connect to the internet, albeit via a PC. However, the fact that it had a battery life which would last only an hour meant that it wasn’t the most practical or mobile device. At 1.1 lb it was also notably heavier than the modern smartphone.

Available only in the United States for $899 with a two-year contract, or a rather large $1099 without a contract, it operated on a network only in 15 states. Unfortunately the IBM Simon was short lived and after six months was discontinued.

However, it is undeniable that the device paved the way for the modern smartphone and to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the IBM Simon will be on display at London’s Science Museum in its new Information Age gallery, which opens on October 25th.

Fast forward to August 2014 and the world of communications and technology is full of rumours about the newest smartphone releases, with Apple’s iPhone 6 and Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha rumoured to be going head-to-head with each other this September. The anniversary of the IBM Simon couldn’t come at a more imperative and exciting time.