Did you know: the first smartphone turns 21

Did you know: the first smartphone turns 21

Did you know that it’s been 21 years since the launch of what’s arguably considered to be the first ever smartphone?

The IBM Simon launched on August 16th of 1994, but it was a long way coming, as the phone was originally introduced way back in early 1992 at the COMDEX show in Las Vegas (later to be succeeded by CES).

The term smartphone was not widely used at the time, and the IBM Simon arrived as a ‘personal communicator’, but within a year the term smartphone appeared more widely, and it was retrospectively applied to the device.

Naturally, it was a huge phone weighing a whopping 1.12 pounds, and measuring 64 x 38mm, with a gigantic for the times 4.7-inch monochrome backlit display. The screen was also touch sensitive and could be operated with a stylus.

Here is a quick look at the specs of the IBM Simon:

  • Dimensions: 64 x 38mm
  • Weight: 1.12lbs (510g)
  • Processor: Vadem 16MHz (16-bit) single core
  • Screen: 4.7-inch (4.5 x 1.4 inches) with 60 x 293 pixels resolution
  • Connectivity: 0.002Mbit/s (2400bps)

What did a smartphone look like back in 1994? Well, it did have a modem meaning always-on connectivity, and the list of built-in apps included a calendar and organizer, along with the more standard messaging and calling.

It launched with a steep price tag, though: $899, and maybe that’s what made it not all that popular as only around 50,000 units of the phone were sold.

Images courtesy of Computer History Museum, Wikipedia

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10 Comments

1. phonehome

Posts: 812; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

My friend still uses the original iPhone and REFUSES to upgrade. Now only if I could buy a Simon and have his ATT service transferred to it.

2. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

New "iPhone8,1" geekbench scorehttp://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench3/3202808 This one is a modified iPhone 4S, the previous one was a modified iPad Air 2 WCCFtech isn't a reliable source

3. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Borring. I'm still using my Motorola DynaTAC 8000X as my daily driver purchased on March 13, 1984 in Baltimore.

8. LIBERALSrSHlT

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 17, 2015

Is that a smartphone? Would contradict the first one being introduced in 1984 as the article states.

4. gehrig

Posts: 423; Member since: Apr 17, 2014

No offense, but your friend sounds like the stupidest idiot alive.

5. brasstax

Posts: 539; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Holy crap! Those bezels!! Are you sure it wasn't called the personal terminator? One whack from the device is enough to instantly kill even a 300 pound man.

6. brasstax

Posts: 539; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Holy crap! Those bezels!! Are you sure it wasn't called the personal terminator? One whack from the device is enough to instantly kill even a 300 pound man.

7. LIBERALSrSHlT

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 17, 2015

Just as important: what did service cost when this phone debuted?? How many minutes, data, texts (if that was considered)?

9. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

1994 sounds about right. Simon also had a fax peripheral for the mobile pro. If memory serves correctly, it was an option on GMC trucks back then.

10. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

1.12lbs O:

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