THE HISTORY OF THE SMARTPHONE
From Simon Personal Communicator, the IBM newbie of the 1990’s, to the Apple i-Phone of today, the smartphone has traversed the technological canvass from being a bulky ‘Hulk’ to a slim, chiselled chocolate boy digital soul mate. It indeed seems like a journey from the ancient Land of Oz to the uber-geeky chambers of Star Trek!
The invention of transistors, the electronic brainchild of Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley in 1947 is undoubtedly the mother of the digital revolution in every way. It kick-started the electronic fabrication technology which bundled hundreds and thousands of flip-flops to a mere scale of micrometers of chip-space, thereby creating remarkable memory storage capacities on teeny silicon wafers.
The Simon Personal Communicator was capable of sending and receiving cellular calls, faxes and e-mails. Back then in 1992, an era of expensive air time and landline familiarity, this tech marvel boasted of an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) touch screen, charging base, rechargeable batteries and a fitted leather case. Well! the new guy in town rendered enough food for thought (and action!) to the techie minds of the day, to take the game even further into the pristine, untouched forest of handheld multimedia, mobile operating system, digital communication and suchlike.
The term “smartphone” found its first mention in 1995 to describe AT&T’s “PhoneWriter Communicator”.
The late 1990’s witnessed mobile phone users graduating towards a separate PDA (“Personal Digital Assistant”) device which was nothing but nascent working versions of mobile operating systems such as Palm OS, BlackBerry OS or Windows CE/Pocket PC.
The year 1996 heralded a notable landmark in the smartphone timeline, the QWERTY keyboard! An amalgamation of PDA and cellular phone, the Nokia 9000 Communicator ‘walked the ramp’ in August of the aforementioned year. To put forth the technical jargon, it exploited the ‘clamshell design’ which employed the two separate devices attached via a hinge opening up to reveal a screen on the inside upper panel and a QWERTY keyboard on the lower- a flamboyant gem that spoilt the user with the luxury of handling e-mails, faxes, calendar, address book, calculator and text-based web browsing!
Passing by a lot of ‘valleys and hills’ in the digital timeline, the world saw the advent of the Apple iPhone in June 2007, which was conspicuously described by the late Steve Jobs as a “revolutionary and a magical product”. It can be easily branded as the king of smartphones, gloriously adorned with a quad-band GSM connectivity, multi-touch screen, and GPRS and EDGE backing for data transfer. Raising up many eyebrows and emptying of a lot of pockets, the consumers could not help getting bewitched by this seemingly humble handheld device that accommodated features of a personal computer as well as a phone.
Late into 2007, it was Google’s turn to venture into the smartphone market with the proclamation of its Android OS-based smartphones, while the subsequent years revealed an ever-raging battle for the slimmest, sleekest and yet the ultra-futuristic models of the palm-sized beauty.
Beginning at the processor, journeying through the battery, camera resolution and the operating system capabilities, the current Apple, Nokia and Google products ceaselessly compete on the software as well as the hardware architectures.
Chronicling the life-story of the smartphone phenomenon is as complex and enigmatic as the gadget itself. Everything said and done, the hunger of the mortal community is still far from quenched as we dream and design even higher and deeper in our minds and experimental facilities.
Who knows what the next surprise from these tech giants will bring us! We all wait with bated breaths!