Tech History

Smartphone-Mania: When Did It Start?

It was in 1995 that the word “smartphone” was being echoed all over the country.  Some was unsure what the term actually meant but ran with it anyway.  Later it was revealed that the craze was three years late as the first true smartphone actually debuted in 1992.  Known the Simon Personal Communicator, it was created by IBM and introduced over 15 years earlier than Apple’s iPhone.

Simon Hits the Market

Simon was the first phone to combine cell phone and PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) functions.  This new phenomenon featured a 4.5 inches monochrome LCD touchscreen, and came equipped with a stylus.  Built-in features included a notepad, an address book, a calendar, a world clock, and an appointment scheduler.  Simon was also able to send facsimiles, emails, and cellular pages.

With an initial price tag of $899, plus a contract, IBM managed to sell over 50,000 units according to Bloomberg Businessweek.  However, Simon’s lifespan was very brief, and after six months it disappeared from the market.  Despite all its flashy features, Simon proved to be too expensive for most and was seen as generally geared towards the business community.

iPhone Introduced

Then, along came the iPhone.  Apple unveiled a revolutionary smartphone in 2007 that not only broke the mold but also set an entirely new standard for computer-based phones.  This 1st generation of iPhones came with trailblazing features that included an expansive and responsive display to check email, stream video, play audio and browse the web.  The company’s unique iOS operating system allowed users to download compatible third-party applications, legitimizing apps as a vital component of the cellular industry.

Primarily, Apple and the new iPhone achieved it ultimate purpose – getting people re-energized about smartphones.  It was a way to help users stay organized, correspond via email, and on the lighter side, play games, watch movies, chat, and share content.  It was also seen as a means of staying firmly connected to an industry that was evolving rapidly.

Apple’s Contribution

Contrary to popular belief, the smartphone did not start with Apple, but the company is credited for taking technology that already existed and perfecting it.  One glance at most of today’s smartphones reveals that the look, interface and core functionality, is in some form or another derived from the original iPhone’s design.

Sky’s the Limit

So, as we become more dependent on our smartphones for every conceivable purpose, let us go to back to when the idea was first introduced 26 years ago (for those who can) and trace its incredible advancement to today.  We are now at a pivotal point where most find it impossible to survive without their smartphone, but this may just be the tip of the iceberg, as the possibilities for the future are limitless.