9 fun facts about the world’s first smartphone

Long before the days of the iPhone and Android came Simon, the device that started it all. The world’s first smartphone turned 20 this week, and to commemorate the occasion, TIME Magazine compiled several fun facts on the handset that broke the mold. Simon anticipated our constantly-connected, app-happy lives by cramming the features of a cellphone, pager, fax machine and computer all into an 18-ounce device.


1. IBM and BellSouth first debuted Simon on November 23, 1992 at the COMDEX Convention in Las Vegas, but it wasn’t made available to consumers until August 16, 1994.

2. It was expensive, and rightfully so. The device that set the pace for future smartphones was available only in the United States, and initially set buyers back $899.


3. Alright, so it was a brick. The clunky phone itself measured 8 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches thick, all while weighing over a pound.

4. Yes, it had a touchscreen. Though touchscreens weren’t exactly non-existent back in the early 1990s, they weren’t super ubiquitous either. The IBM device replaced the usual telephone keyboard by a sensitive touchscreen and integrated PIM applications and data communication features along with a stylus, too. The phone provided an onscreen keyboard or a QWERTY keyboard and an optional memory card.


5. The world’s first all-in-one smartphone allowed users to make and receive telephone calls, faxes, emails and cellular pages, among other functions. Though there may not have been an app store at the time, the phone did come preloaded with apps such as an address book, calculator, calendar, note pad, sketch pad, time and to-do lists.

6. The first autocorrect? Alright, so the feature was called “PredictaKey” at the time. Nevertheless, Simon always showed the six most-likely letters that the user needed, depending on the characters they just typed.

7. Simon even made an appearance in The Net. 

8. It could be plugged into a regular wall jack, because let’s face it, cellular service was still spotty and expensive back in the mid-1990s.

9. RIP, Simon. August 1994 – February 1995. The revolutionary handset spent only six months on the market with around 50,000 units sold, primarily to business people.

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