The smartphone turns 20: we’ve come a long way, baby

Did you know that the first smartphone was introduced at Comdex twenty years ago this week? The phone to hold that illustrious title as the world’s first smartphone is the Simon Personal Communicator from IBM. Introduced on November 23, 1992 as a prototype, the Simon was the first cellular phone to combine telephone and PDA features in one device.

The handset weighed a hefty 18 ounces and measured 8-inches high, 2.5-inches wide and 1.5-inches thick. The handset could make and receive phone calls, emails, faxes and cellular pages (i.e., old-style pager notifications, remember those?). It also included apps like an address book, calendar, calculator, notepad and more. The Simon even had predictive typing. It was on the market for a short six months before it was pulled by IBM and carrier BellSouth Cellular. During that time, it had a cameo role in the technology thriller The Net starring Sandra Bullock.

You can check out a video of a working unit in this video from Tek.Gadg and peruse this Bloomberg article that details the history of the phone. It’s amazing how far we have come in a short 20 years.

[Via Bloomberg and InfoWorld; image from the Buxton Collection]


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