We can say that the history of smartphones begins only with the advent of wireless technology to transmit radio waves. While the general radio devices (the ones you used to listed to songs, news etc) were already in existence, the very first wireless call (as per AT&T) was made in 1946. On its page , the AT&T claims it was a truck driver who made history:
‘That “primitive” wireless network could not handle large call volumes. A single transmitter on a central tower provided a handful of channels for an entire metropolitan area. Between one and eight receiver towers handled the call return signals. At most, three subscribers could make calls at one time in any city. It was, in effect, a massive party line, where subscribers would have to listen first for someone else on the line before making a call.
Expensive and far from “mobile”, the service cost $15 per month, plus 30 to 40 cents per local call, and the equipment weighed 80 pounds. Just as they would use a CB microphone, users depressed a button on the handset to talk and released it to listen.’
Later, technology improved and call costs came down along with that of “mobile” devices that employed wireless radio signals. The following offers you a visual glimpse into the evolution of smartphones.
Year 1993-94: The First Wireless Device – IBM Simon
The first device capable of making wireless calls was a combination of a PDA and cellular phone. Cost of IBM Simon was fixed around USD 1100.
Year 1996: The Palm Pilot – Wireless Data Only
This was not able to make or receive calls but still was a hit among IT industry executives owing to its capability to send and receive data over wireless radio signals. Hence, does deserve a mention in the evolution of smartphones.
Year 1998: The Introduction Of Nokia 9110 Communicator
The Nokia 9110 was a foldable cellular phone with a full-fledged keyboard. It had a 32 bit 24Mhz Intel processor that weighed only 317 grams.
Year 1999: Ericsson R380 – The First “Official” Smartphone!
The marketing people for R380 first used the term ‘smartphone’ that caught on like a forest fire and sales went up for the foldable model capable of both voice and data usage over radio signals.
Year 2002: Introduces BlackBerry 5810 – With Email & Surfing Capabilities
BlackBerry entered the wireless (smartphone) market with its 5810 device which could send emails and let users surf the Internet.
Year 2007: When Smartphones Changed Forever – Apple Brings in iPhone
With the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, things changed forever. Web designers understood they’ll have to keep a mobile web version for viewing on phones and portable devices. Though the first one was essentially an iPod with call making facilities, the iPhone craze goes on as Apple kept on adding features with each subsequent release…
Above is an advert from Rogers, the Canadian partner of Apple iPhone!
Year 2008: Enters The Martian To Take Over The Smartphone Market
Until 2007 and most of 2008, the most used operating systems for smartphones were Symbian, Blackberry etc. Google introduced Android, an open source smartphone operating system that took over the mobile market. Not only cellphones but many other types of portable devices now use Android.
According to a post by Google’s Hugo , there are more than 500 million devices running of Android. That was on September 22 2012, and as per Hugo, each day adds another 1 million…
Year 2013: Windows 8 Mobile Compresses The Internet Into Handheld
Windows 8 mobile integrates cloud – remote storage combined with services that save your overall bills. The intention is to keep your data synchronized among your Windows 8 cellphone, the cloud and your computers/servers!
Evolution Of Smartphone: The Road Ahead
Blackberry is here to stay; Windows Mobile 8 is picking up slowly but steadily; Android is an ever growing market; and iPhone keeps on evolving every other year…
The future of smartphones is another topic that can be debated in detail! For now, it is promising for smartphones as people depend more and more on their gadgets for almost everything! Some years ago, we had to plan our trip well ahead and carry maps to reach somewhere. Now, we have smartphones to help us plan and guide on the go. News about remote control smartphones is in air – the ones that could power your home appliances on and off from anywhere on the planet, or should I say, from Mars?!
 Digit Magazine, Dec 12 Issue.