Today’s smartphones have won hundreds of millions of users, but there was a time when mobile phones were basically that means devices only allowed to make and receive calls, or send and receive short text messages.
What was therefore the first smartphone in history? Maybe Apple revolutionized the concept with its touch interface and a more powerful idea: the app store that made these devices in real palmtops.
But years before and the first smartphones were sold, far from what we see today but still surprising for the time, in 1997 Ericsson broke new ground again, coining the term “smartphone” in conjunction with the unveiling of the Ericsson GS88, code name “Penelope”, a prototype that never reached the market – a full 10 years before Apple’s iPhone hit the shelves.
The Ericsson GS88 was developed in Kista (Sweden) during 1997 and manufactured in approx. 200 copies, most of them scrapped.
It what based on the Geoworks operating system, GEOS, the application software which developed at SAL in Warrington (England), had features such as 16-bit operating system GEOS, POP3 email, SMS, world clock, browser, speakerphone, integrated modem, infrared port and PC connection.
A touch screen with stylus and QWERTY keyboard was used to access its functions.
In phonearena.com do a review of this concept, which first noted in 1997 when Ericsson described the GS88 as a “Smartphone“, separating the two words in English: “Smart-Phone“.
GS88 looked similar to Nokia 9000 Communicator. Ericsson even designed its retail packaging – a box that said Smart Phone on its cover – but the company never publicly released the phone.
Analysis showed that the market was not mature. “Weight was a little bit of an issue, and maybe the battery was not so great,” recalls Tor Björn Minde, a long time Ericsson employee who now serves as the company’s head of research. “So it was probably decided to make the GS88 smaller, to be the R380,” which then became the first smartphone-branded phone.