Today marks a major milestone as it is thirty years since the iconic IBM Simon was officially released. The device is hugely important in the history of mobile phones as it is widely regarded as one of the first devices that could be termed a “smart phone”. Although not described as smart phone at the time – that honour goes to the Ericsson GS 88 – the Simon was a breakthrough device combining a PDA (personal digital assistant) with communication capabilities via a cellular connection.
IBM worked with network operator Bell South to commercialise the device and the name, Simon Personal Communicator, was conceived by the BellSouth team. It was marketed using the slogan “Mobile Communications Made Simple.” This was derived from the children’s game “Simon Says” and was considered to be a name that was easy for consumers to remember.
The phone had a revolutionary graphical user interface and included applications that provided unique experiences such as an address book, email support (via Lotus cc:Mail), a calculator, a calendar, the ability to send a fax, a notepad, a world clock, a file manager, a sketch pad and even paging support, via a “paging card” that could be inserted into the PCMCIA slot on the device.