From talking and texting to listening to music and playing games, the smartphone has become an instrumental part of our daily lives. The very thought of leaving this revolutionary invention at home is enough to leave us panicked and downright petrified. It could be said that the smartphone is an extension of our very being.
That being said, the smartphone is a relatively new form of communication. It wasn’t until the introduction of the iPhone that consumers were privy to such a powerful piece of technology. A piece of technology that was not only capable of entertaining them, but of also simplifying their lives with a number of helpful and powerful apps.
There has been some confusion as to who actually invented the smartphone. While companies such as Google, Microsoft and Motorola have all been instrumental in the progression and growth of the smartphone, it’s difficult not to acknowledge IBM as the inventor of the smartphone. Although simple by today’s standards, the Simon, introduced in 1992 was a true pioneer. Despite its lack of sophistication, the Simon did possess many unique and forward-thinking features.
With the release of the Simon, the public was introduced to a bevy of smartphone tools like a touchscreen, calendar and contacts. The fact that so many powerful tools could be packed into this 18-ounce invention astounded the public. The Simon even included predictive typing, which expedited typing by recommending words based on the first letters typed. If that wasn’t enough, the Simon included rudimentary apps, such as maps, a camera and music. However all of this new technology came at a heavy price - Simon retailed for $899.00.
Despite the dramatic leap in technology Simon provided, it would take another decade before the term ‘smartphone’ would find its way into the popular lexicon and yet another five years before the iPhone transformed our views of what these amazing technological wonders could do for us.
While the iPhone would revolutionize how we interacted with out smartphones and change smartphones forever, it owes much of its success to the oft forgotten Simon. Without the invention of the Simon, all of the bells and whistles found in the iPhone, including: multi-touch, an accelerometer and a gesture-based interface would continue to be the stuff of science fiction.
The invention of Simon illustrates how a groundbreaking product depends upon a fertile ecosystem before becoming successful. In this instance, Simon depended upon speedy networks and web browsers which were unavailable in the early ‘90s. Telephone networks during that time were constructed primarily for voice, not transmitting data. Simply put, the Simon was way ahead of its time.