The World’s First Smartphone, The IBM Simon, Enters London Science Museum

IBM_Simon_Personal_Communicator lead

IBM’s Simon, the first mobile phone with a touchscreen PDA will be seen at London’s Science Museum, 20 years after its launch

IBM‘s Simon, the world’s first smartphone, will go on display in London’s Science Museum – 20 years after it first went on sale.

The Simon was launched in 1994 and combined a mobile phone with a touchscreen so it could handle appointments and emails. It will be just one of the 800 exhibits in a new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum which will show the history of communications from the invention of the telegraph and radio.

IBM_Simon_Personal_Communicator leadSimon says…

The Simon Personal Communicator had 1MB of memory and a 2400 bps modem… and a battery life of only one hour. The touchscreen was operated with a stylus and allowed applications such as calendar and contacts, similar to devices of the time called personal digital assistants (PDAs) from companies including Psion and Palm.

The phone in the Simon allowed it to communicate to the Internet, handling emails and faxes. It is considered the first smartphone, although the term was not coined until Ericsson launched its Smart Phone in 1997.

The Simon was only available in the US, for $1099 without a contract, or $899 with a two-year contract. It was sold by BellSouth, and operated on a network in 15 US states. It flopped, selling 50,000 units, and was discontinued in only six months. The device was made for IBM by Mitsubishi Electric.

The new Science Museum gallery opens on 25 October and includes the galvanometer used to receive the first ever trans-Atlantic telegraph message sent from President Buchanan to Queen Victoria. It also shows the Marconi radio transmitter which carried the first public broadcast in 1922, transmitting the words “This is 2LO calling” and launching the BBC.

Do you know the history of tech at the BBC?