Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the World’s First Smartphone!



The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was a handheld, touchscreen cellular phone and PDA designed and engineered by International Business Machines Corp.

The device went on sale to the US public on 16 August 1994 and combined mobile phone technology with a wide range of computing features. The term wasn’t coined until recently but Simon had all the hallmarks of a smartphone so it was called as such. It was marketed around the idea of the game “Simon says” because it was simple but could do almost anything a user would want.

IBM’s pioneering product was also the first mobile phone to feature software apps and could be linked up to a fax machine. It was only available to customers in the United States, operating within a 15 state network and sold around 50,000 models.The device was particularly popular with members of the business community, who craved a transportable phone that doubled up as a mini-computer.However, a big price tag and limited battery life (1 hour!) contributed to its eventual disappearance from the market around two years after its launch.

The Science Museum in London will have a unit on display for the “Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World” exhibit for those who would like to see Simon. Dedicated to the history of information technology, the exhibit will feature over 200 years of innovations and inventions that have molded the way people communicate with each other. The exhibit  on Oct. 25.

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