Smartphones are something that is a normal part of our everyday life today, and only 10 years ago they were completely unknown to the general public and reserved only for businessmen. The device that popularized the concept of “smartphone” and made it a global star is the iPhone, which will celebrate a decade since its introduction this year.
However, if you thought that the first smartphones appeared with the iPhone, you are mistaken. They have been here for over 20 years.
The first smartphones
Believe it or not, the first smartphones came on the market back in year 1994. They were created by engineers from IBM and BellSouth, who first came up with the idea to make a combination of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Let’s take a step back – back in 1994, PDAs (personal digital assistants) were very popular and were used by business people to use them to organize their obligations and working day. Some of the most famous PDAs are manufactured by Palm.
However, although Palm and similar gadgets did well in the market, the first smartphones (which were popularly called Simon ) were not that lucky. Only 6 months after entering the market, they finished their career. All Simon models were withdrawn from sale, and only 50,000 pieces were sold. Now those 50,000 lucky ones can boast of the fact that the first smartphones were exactly in their possession.
What options did the first smartphones offer?
It is very interesting that the first smartphones had a set of options almost identical to the one offered by today’s “super stars” of the mobile world. In addition to the alarm clock and calendar to which you could add your events, there was also a notebook, a sketch space (the first smartphones also had a pen) and the ability to send faxes.
What will surely surprise you is that back in 1994, the first smartphones offered the ability to check email on their display. Another surprising option is application support. Of course, there was nothing like today’s storages, so the applications were available on memory cards that you could use to install and run them.
Disadvantages that the first smartphones had
Although they were a real marvel of technology in their time, the first smartphones also had some serious flaws, from today’s point of view. One of the biggest disadvantages of these devices was the very short battery life.
If you think that today’s devices have low battery life, what about their ancestors whose battery lasted barely an hour. If you were a more demanding user and typed more on the phone, the battery would last barely half an hour.
Another problem on the list is poor signal reception. However, it is not the devices themselves that are to blame for this flaw, but the age in which they were created.
The GSM network was still in its infancy and you could not count on the coverage we have today, so it often happened that you were left without a signal. This problem was solved very elegantly. The first smartphones had a fixed line connector, so you could use them as regular phones whenever you were not on the go.
Another flaw was the appearance of the phone itself. 8 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick made this one really look like a brick . Due to its dimensions, it was very inconvenient to use, so you always needed both hands to do anything.
Why were the first mobile phones not successful?
There are several reasons why the first mobile phones, sympathetically called Simon, did not have much success in the market:
- The price of 1100 dollars is too high for today’s conditions, and imagine how dizzying that was 23 years ago. Although it was intended for business users, even for them this price was too expensive.
- Combined, the flaws we mentioned did not help to make the device appealing to customers and to get the attention of a wider audience.
- Simply, it was not the right time for a phone that would be so smart.
How did we come up with modern smartphones?
While the first smartphone was falling into oblivion, the mobile phone industry experienced a real expansion in the late ’90s, so only in 1999 did they get the first phone called a “smartphone”. It was the Ericsson R380. This phone had Symbian OS, a touch screen and most of the options that today’s phones have.
After Ericsson came Nokia, and then Blackberry appeared and conquered the world of business users. The general public will remain slightly uninterested in these “Jappy” toys until 2007.
And then one device changes everything and brings smartphones into everyone’s hands. It is already clear to you that this is an iPhone.
From this time distance, we can say that the first models examined the market and treated children’s diseases, and we saw a real expansion with the iPhone 4S model, which really conquered the world.
As you can see, we have come a long way from the first smartphones to the present day. Although the technology of making these devices has changed significantly, the essence has remained the same. They are still phones on which we can do a few “things”. It will be interesting to see how the number of these “few things” is increasing this year.