BellSouth - IBM Simon
PDA cellphone
 
Retro Computing Reviewer.....BellSouth IBM SIMON
 

The first ever SmartPhone!

Special features :
- First born of a new breed
- Nice user interface
- Excellent 88 page user manual
- Connectivity package option

Weak points :
- Brick-like, huge and heavy
- No IR port

 
:
IBM Simon 88 page user guide for sale
         

 Simon Says Here's How


   IBM Simon Intro 1994  Simon Says Hello

In the beginning of the 21st century, a "smartphone" is a device the size and shape of a cellphone, sporting a large sensitive screen instead of your regular keyboard, having internet communication features, complete PDA functions, and of course, all of the usual cellphone functions.
If "smartphones" are considered state-of-the art in cellphone technologies in 2013, the first ever device of this kind dates back to1994. Having the size and shape of a cellphone (and they were bigger than in the 2000's), the IBM Simon, distributed by BellSouth, replaces the usual telephone keyboard by a sensitive screen and integrates PIM applications and data communication features.
Let's get back to 1994 : at that time, manufacturers are struggling to make the "communication devices" market take off. The most common approach was then to bring communication to what was then state of the art in portable technology : PDAs.
Many products came out at that time : the EO Communicator, 2 Motorola products, the Marco and the Envoy, respectively running the Newton and the MagicCap OS; the Sony Magic Link. Most of those products were discontinued after no more than 2 years.
Most of those products featured large displays, and a notebook oriented usability : they were basically PDAs with integrated (radio) modems. The Simon showcases a totally different idea of what a communicating device could be : instead of integrating a modem in a PDA, it would integrate a PDA and a modem in a cellphone.
The user interface is pretty clear and apparently pleasant to use. It is a charming example of a early 90's graphic interface. I see it as mac OS 1.0 in a narrow screen : B&W icons, background patterns and round-angles boxes populate the .
Let's face it : the Simon didn't last any longer than it's competitors. Maybe all of them were ahead of their time, but most likely they were all huge, heavy, and horribly expensive, both on the purchase price side and on the communication service subscription side.
Anyway, as the first actual "SmartPhone" in history, the Simon is a very interesting machine.
Processor : custom OS : Zaurus OS
RAM : 1 MB ROM : 1 MB
Graphic display : 160 x 293 Text display : variable fonts
Display : B&W Input : Stylus

Built-in Applications :
Complete telephone abilities, phone directory, mail, calculator, calendar, fax, note pad, file manager, sketch pad, to do list...

Open to other applications : On PCMCIA cards.
Ports :
- power supply entry
- one PCMCIA type 2 port
- one IO connection port
Options :
- MobileComm Paging card
- PC connectivity kit
- Memory card 1MB or 1.8MB
- RJ-11 kit
- Battery saver / charger


 

                                                                                                           IBM Simon Offered For Sale