The IBM Simon: The Great-Grandfather of the Modern Smartphone

Interestingly enough, when the majority of individuals are asked about what the first smartphone was, the most common answer is that it was the original Blackberry. Well not to rain in on Blackberry’s parade, but it was in fact IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) that designed and released the first smartphone way back in 1994. It’s name was Simon, and although it was chunky and did not visually look anywhere near today’s smartphones, it has become known as the great-grandfather of modern cellphones. If you look at it up close, it may not look extremely sophisticated but it did have one very prominent feature that almost every smartphone has today, a touch sensitive screen.

It is truly incredible to examine not only how much smartphones have evolved in a matter of 23 years but the massive impact they have had on society in that amount of time. At the point Simon was released, people had different devices for every task from mathematical calculations, faxing, emailing, calling, and sending instant messages. Jump forward to the 2010’s and not only does the entire Western Hemisphere use smartphone technology, but the rest of the world continues to join a worldwide network of cell phone operators. We use our smartphones for every task mentioned and more, including the ability to roam the internet, all in a small enough package to fit inside our pockets. Today, in 2017, we can see multiple large technology-based brands competing in the cell phone market, especially Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and HTC. Even though IBM no longer deals with smartphone technology and has instead diverted its attention to bigger and better things, its influence on cell phone technology is still felt today. Nobody in 1994 could have ever predicted it, but the Simon would pave the way for smartphone development and help lead to a world where individuals carry everything they need in one, small, mobile device.

Image result for ibm simon vs modern phones

Sources from Summon:


One Reply to “The IBM Simon: The Great-Grandfather of the Modern Smartphone”

  1. Will we consider today’s cell phones as “clunky” and old-fashioned as the Simon? And if the Simon was so path-breaking, why isn’t IBM in the cell phone business today. (Before this post, I didn’t know IBM developed this technology at all. I’m learning stuff!) Was it blocked by regulation? Did its business managers decide to focus on other stuff? IBM in the late 1970s developed another popular technology–the personal computer. It stayed in that business for many years.
    Interesting topic. Thanks for your good work.

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