There is a large section of society who probably think that it was a certain polo-neck wearing, fruit-obsessed, Jobs-worth in Cupertino who invented the smartphone a handful of years back in 2007; these people are not only naïve but also wildly incorrect. There is probably also a much smaller group who can remember before everything came with a lowercase ‘I’ when a company called Nokia ruled the roost with something called the ‘Communicator’, a palmtop phone which had an integrated PDA to help business-types look important on public transport. But that was 1996 and even though the term ‘Smart Phone’ was not termed by Ericsson until 1997, the idea of a phone-computer fusion goes much further back before that…
A concept unveiled by IBM at computer industry trade show COMDEX, the Angler was the world’s first true smartphone, combining the ability to make and take calls with the sending and receiving of faxes and emails, along with featuring an integrated address book, calendar, calculator, scheduler, world clock, games, note pad and even a predictive text touch screen. And the year this marvel of the modern world was wheeled out? 1992 – 20 years ago today!
Later refined and released to the public as the sexily named Simon Personal Computer in 1994, this 18-ounce breeze block blazed a trail to the future of mobile communications, leading to the likes of touch screens becoming commonplace, ‘smart’ features being the expected norm, and apps such as Angry Birds being available on the go.
Features and aesthetics may have been ‘tweaked’ over the decades since the Angler first fished for the future, but the undeniable inspiration behind all phones ‘i’ and the originator of the idea of the mobile OS which ultimately led to Android, raise your glasses, please, and join LOA in wishing many happy returns to the phone we all owe our thanks, the start of all things smart, the IBM Angler!