Since the launch of the IBM Simon in 1993 mobile technology has spiralled into realms that until recently could only have been dreamed of. Although it was the first cellular phone to include telephone and PDA features all in one handheld device, it was a fairly humble introduction for the powerful handsets that have since followed.
Many consider the IBM Simon to be the first ever smartphone, despite the term only being coined in 1997. It squeezed telephone, pager, email and text messaging functionalities, as well as a fax machine interface, into an 18-ounce black chassis (or “brick” as it now more commonly referred).
The most prominent part of the handset was the monochrome touchscreen which featured a QWERTY keyboard and no physical buttons – a stylus was used to input predictive text, play games and access the calendar and address book.
Users also had the chance to expand its functionality by plugging a memory card into the phone to get more features such as maps and music.
Back in 1993 the Simon retailed for $899 and sold approximately 50,000 units. Almost two decades on and the journey of the smartphone looks to have done a complete 360, with many of the original IBM Simon features making a comeback on some of today’s flagship handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
This innovative piece of tech undoubtedly led the way for the ground-breaking devices we use today and without this the smartphone evolution could have told a very different story.