IBM Simon – First ever smartphone turns 21 today

Thomas Wellburn
August 17, 2015

Today is a special day in the mobile phone world, as it marks the 21st anniversary of the very first smartphone.

It’s hard to believe that the first smartphone was released 21 years ago, though that’s exactly what happened back in 1994 when IBM unleashed the ‘Simon’ onto the market. Aptly named due to its simplicity and ability to do anything, the Simon had a battery which lasted an hour and only 1 megabyte of internal memory.

First shown during the 1992 COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, it sold around 50,000 handsets when it first went on sale in 1994. The phone was very advanced for its time, with email, fax and cellular capabilities all crammed into a single device. IBM crammed a 0.002Mbit/s modem inside for web duties, which must’ve been painfully slow. Various applications were available for the Simon, with an expansion slot located in the bottom for switching them up. Users could edit spreadsheets, customise their calendars, play games and even access basic mapping software.

Each Simon shipped with its own charging base station which resembled a humongous slab of plastic, plus an additional battery and protective cover. With a hefty 16MHz processor, it was surprisingly powerful for 1995, as most desktop PC’s of that era only averaged around 50-60MHz in processing power.

IBM, we salute you sir.

About the Author

Share this article