The story of the first smart phone

While we were anxiously awaiting what having a former Arkansas governor in The White House would be like, technology juggernaut IBM was inventing something that—unless you’re way, way off the grid—is probably in your pocket or purse at this very moment. No, I’m not talking about dental floss attached to a blue, plastic wishbone. It was the world’s first smart phone.

While other companies, inventors, R&D departments, et al., were focused solely on voice transmission as it relates to cellular technology, the folks at IBM were way ahead of the curve. Voice, smoish. They were also thinking about emailing, fax, touch screens, calendars, notes, and apps. Look familiar? IBM called their pride and joy Simon and, because you may not have heard of it, you’ve probably already assumed that it didn’t really get legs and catch on. You see, Simon cost well over a thousand bucks and the battery lasted just under an hour…yikes. They sold about 50,000 devices and shelved poor Simon after just 6 months.

Seven years later, Blackberry introduced their first smart phone, the 850. It had a whopping 132 x 65 pixel screen resolution, a tiny keyboard that accommodated only the very, very tips of your fingers, and a thumbwheel on the side for scrolling. Hey, in the day it was revolutionary. Don’t laugh, what is in your pocket or purse right now will probably seem pretty rudimentary and laughable in another few years (maybe months).