The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was a handheld, touchscreen cellular phone and PDA, designed and engineered by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and assembled under contract by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. BellSouth Cellular Corp.
The first so called ‘smartphone’ was released by IBM in1994 August 16. That means the mobile turned 20 on Saturday.
In addition to its ability to make and receive cellular phone calls, Simon was also able to send and receive faxes, e-mails and cellular pages. Simon featured many applications including an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, electronic note pad, handwritten annotations and standard and predictive stylus input screen keyboards.
The IBM Simon’s was powered by a Vadem x86 Processor teamed with 1MB of RAM clocked at just 16MHz of processing speed. Other specs included a 4.5-inch B&W 160×293 LCD display, stylus support for touch input. This smartphone was little bulky (500g) and had a battery life of one hour only.
The phone was prized at 899$ and around 50,000 handsets were sold. Further, the IBM Simon was discontinued after only 6 months of its release in February 1995. However it was indeed an extraordinary device back in 1994 and in many ways it is quite similar to the basic idea of what a smartphone is today: a touchscreen phone that works with apps to help make our everyday lives easier.