IBM’s Simon – the device that paved the way for smartphones that you see today – has turned 20 today and it will find a place at a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London.
Simon, which had a battery life of an hour, was developed jointly by IBM and American cellular company BelSelf and packed the best of technology available at the time and. The smartphone went on sale in 1994 and cost a whopping $899 at the time.
Simon was unlike any other cellphones available during those days as it allowed its users to do a lot more than just place calls. It was the first ever mobile phone to feature a touchscreen and software apps that allowed users to sketch, update their calendar, jot down notes, send and receive faxes among other things through the use of a stylus.
Though a commercial flop, Simon did lay the groundwork for a new range of mobile phones that could do more than just place calls. The term ‘smartphone’ wasn’t up until 2000, but Simon did fit the bill perfectly.
The phone that is in display at the Science Museum was once owned by a project manager for construction works in the United States who used it to receive technical drawings through fax, signed them off and sent them back without having to print anything.
“It has all the components of a smartphone, including a slot in the bottom to insert different applications such as mapping ones, spreadsheets and games. So it was really a forerunner to the iPhone,” Charlotte Connelly from the London’s Science Museum was quoted as saying.