Where did cell phones come from

How it all began: the history of the smartphone

Dennis Steimels

About 20 years ago, IBM brought the first ancestor of modern smartphones onto the market. During this period, development progressed at great speed. The bulky crusher from back then is now ultra-thin, serves as a camera replacement and can do almost everything that a complete PC can do. Oh yes, by the way, you can still make calls.

EnlargeHow it all began: the history of the smartphone
© IBM, Nokia, Apple, Samsung

Time for a history lesson: Have you ever wondered who is the origin of today's smartphone? And when, for example, were the first cameras, the first web browser or the first 1 GHz CPU used in mobile phones? We are now devoting ourselves to a short journey through time and reviewing the last 20 years in quick succession. In our picture gallery you will find all smartphone milestones with the corresponding information.

The first smartphone: IBM Simon

EnlargeIBM Simon: ancestor of modern smartphones

It all started in 1992. Cell phones had been around for a long time by then, if not in the way we know them today - they were actually just "cell phones". Telephoning with the "cell phone" was not enough for IBM, however; the US company was thinking of many more functions that a mobile device should have. Such as the functions of a computer - why not? The ancestor of the modern smartphone was born! With the IBM Simon you could send e-mails and faxes, manage a calendar and an address book and play games. In addition, the IBM Simon was the first device with a touchscreen.

First mobile phone with a camera: Toshiba Camesse

EnlargeToshiba Camesse: first camera phone

Admittedly, the Toshiba Camesse, which was released in 1999, wasn't actually a real smartphone - it could only make calls. Still, it's an important piece of equipment to mention. Because the Camesse was the first mobile phone with a built-in digital camera. After about three years, more and more manufacturers came up with the great idea of ‚Äč‚Äčintegrating cameras in their smartphones. The quality, however, was more than bad. The Sharp GX30 was able to counteract this and came onto the market in Germany for the first time in 2004 with a 1 megapixel camera.

Revolutionary operating systems: Android and iOS

EnlargeApple iPhone: revolutionary operating system

In addition to the hardware, the software is decisive for the choice of smartphone. The American company Apple, initially a manufacturer of computers, launched its first smartphone with the name iPhone in 2007. The hardware components used did not represent a major innovation. But the self-developed operating system was so well received that the iPhone quickly became a bestseller - that's how the Apple hype began. A year later, the first smartphone with Google's Android operating system, the HTC Dream, came onto the market. Initially with limited success, Android quickly developed into the most popular operating system for mobile devices.

The best Android smartphone in the test

Current smartphones: ultra-thin, powerful, huge display

EnlargeSamsung Galaxy S3: combines the best hardware with intelligent software

16 years of smartphone development have left their mark. Almost nothing is left of the bulky, heavy cell phone. But today's smartphones and their forerunners still have one thing: They are small, mobile computers. Today's smartphone models in the high-end class are only a few millimeters flat, offer at least one dual-core, and recently a quad-core CPU, and have huge touchscreens around 5 inches. In addition, there is fast Internet via HSPA + and, in some cases, LTE and a large internal memory for multimedia content. Not to be forgotten are the intelligent software functions and the possibility of installing programs via certain app stores.

Samsung Galaxy S3 in the first test

In our picture gallery you will find some milestones in the 20 years of smartphone development. Do you recognize one or the other device? It is impressive how the smartphone models have developed during this time - and not just on the outside. The currently installed hardware is sometimes more powerful than some PCs back then.