The Technological Development of Smartphones Through History

Although the concept of Smartphone is fairly new, the core technology, the ability to transmit and receive encoded sound has existed for much longer. It has been primarily known as the telephone, which quickly went mainstream after its invention, becoming “one of the most common house appliances in the developed world today (Wikipedia_contributors, 2009).” Throughout the years, the telephone evolved into being more than just a ‘house appliance’ and made itself portable. This was the first step towards the concept of Smartphone and this new portability changed the game forever.

The telephone was non-existent during the pre-industrial era and most communications took place by physical meetings and written letters. It isn’t until the industrial revolutionary era where the telephone is invented and becomes a huge part of everyday human lives.

The telephone existed even during the pre-industrial era, however limited its functions were. The concept of telephone itself had been coined as early as 1844 by Innocenzon Manzetti, who called it the ‘speaking telegraph.’ (Wikipedia_contributors, 2009) The first real useful telephone was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and quickly spread throughout Europe. North America, on the other hand, only allowed the telephone service to spread very slowly, the product service being limited for the government, businesses, and the wealthy who could afford the hardware and the service fees for the several first decades after the introduction of telephones (Sterling, 2006). The telephone at that time was occasionally used for entertainment, “delivering concert music and stage entertainment” (Sterling, 2006), for example. This new ability to converse with others without physically meeting changed many people’s everyday lives, as it made it so much easier and instantaneous to keep up to date with family and friends living far away, as opposed to utilising snail mail.

The post-industrial era is where we see more innovation in the telephone technology. These phones have become portable and with built-in miscellaneous functions such as a simple calculator and simple calendar. The first crop of these devices and services is now known as the Personal Access System (PAS). PAS is basically a primitive version of today’s cellular phones, similar in size and functions, with the exception of requiring the presence of a base station nearby to make and receive phone calls. They are still somewhat used in some poorer Asian countries (Wikipedia_contributors, Personal Handy-phone System, 2009).This technology made phones portable, but was still very limited due to its reliance on the sparse number of the base stations. This quickly evolved into something we now know as cell phones, the main difference being the always-on connectivity. The latest incarnation of mobile phones is of course the Smartphone. “A Smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced, PC-like features” (Wikipedia_contributors, Smartphone, 2009) and are becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Now, both cell phones and Smartphones have impacted the society greatly in similar ways. Smartphones today now go further than cell phones, allowing people to access the Internet on the go. Smartphones have already been coined as the future of mobile computing itself, effectively eliminating many reasons of carrying a bulky laptop around (Choudhary & Singh, 2005). This new trend is already happening, many people’s mobile computing needs generally being light e-mailing and web-browsing. This always connectedness and the portability of the Smartphone is changing our mobile computing landscape quickly, rendering netbooks essentially useless if one already owns a powerful Smartphone.

The simple concept of sound transmission quickly evolved into full fledged portable, always connected, multimedia devices. As time goes on, these Smartphone devices will only get smarter, making relatively clunkier PCs less useful. This trend is already accelerating in full throttle, with the new Palm Pre with its WebOS and the iPhone OS 3.0 both coming out sometime in the summer of 2009. It just may be possible that these small mobile devices replace today’s netbooks and laptops in the very near future.

Works Cited

Choudhary, B., & Singh, S. (2005, February). The Bright Future of Mobile Computing. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from

Sterling, C. H. (2006). Telephones. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from Gale Virtual Reference Library:

Personal Handy-phone System. (2009, March 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from

Smartphone. (2009, March 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from

Telephone. (2009, March 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from

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