What Was The First Smartphone?

First All-Touch phone was invented by IBM in 1992, that’s 15 years before iPhone was unveiled.

In 2007, Steve Jobs stood on a stage and denounced smartphone as an ugly, mismatched keyboards of Nokia and RIM. Rightfully! But he also championed Apple as the mobile keyboard killer. However, IBM beat them almost two decades earlier.

IBM Simonphone Personal Communicator

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was an advanced cellular telephone, created by a joint venture between IBM and BellSouth. Simon was first shown as a product concept in 1992 at COMDEX, the computer and technology trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Launched in 1993 it combined the features of a mobile phone, a pager, a PDA, and a fax machine. After some delays it was sold by BellSouth in 1994 in 190 U.S. cities in 15 states and was originally priced at $899.

No buttons, no keys, and certainly no keyboard. Instead it presented nothing but a slender slab of grayscale display that would adapt to the given application—calendar, calculator, phone calls, etc.

Granted, the Simon wasn’t exactly on the app store level of sophistication—it included fax machine functionality, after all—but the basic idea is there, in 1992. Get rid of the keyboard! Unfortunately, it was an enormous Zack Morris machine, as 90s phones tended to be, and far too ahead of its time.

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