The smartphone is 20 years old today

simon salsa The smartphone is 20 years old today

Despite the market only booming in the last few years, the smartphone is 20 years old today, but modern devices have come a long way since then.

Despite the market only booming in the last few years, the smartphone is 20 years old today, but modern devices have come a long way since then.

 
On 23 November 1992 IBM unveiled the Simon, codenamed Angler, at the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, a brick-shaped device that combined a mobile phone with a PDA, allowing users to make and receive calls, and send or receive fascimiles and emails, and use the device for other functions. It even featured a touchscreen and stylus.
 
The term “smartphone” did not exist until 1997, when Ericsson coined it, but the IBM Simon had all the tell-tale features and functionality of what would rock the technology world two decades later. At the time there was excitement about the device, but only 50,000 units were sold in the six months it was on the market, thanks largely to its high cost and lack of consumer appeal.
 
simon salsa The smartphone is 20 years old today
Old and New: The IBM Simon beside the HTC Salsa
 
Twenty years might not seem like a long time, but in the technology industry things move very quickly, and now a cheap smartphone from Asda will greatly outpower IBM's device at just a fraction of the price.
 
For example, the HTC Salsa, sold at Asda stores throughout the UK, allows storage expansion up to 32GB, a whopping 32,000 times the storage of the Simon, which had just 1MB of space. It comes with Android 2.3, which offers over half a million apps, which dwarfs the capability of IBM's smartphone. It is also just 25 percent the weight and costs just seven percent of the equivalent modern price of the Simon: £79 compared to £1,104.
 
It was not until BlackBerry maker RIM and Finnish mobile giant Nokia came along that smartphones began to properly emerge at the turn of the century, but it was really the launch of Apple's iPhone and the subsequent wave of Android devices that popularised the smartphone. Yet the framework was laid out twenty years ago today.