Thursday , 5 August 2021

History of first touchscreen phone

Many do not know the fact that the touchscreen sensor and its controller based firmware have been built by a wide array of after market system integrators and not by display or motherboard manufacturers.Everyone including the chip and motherboard manufacturers across the globe have agreed to the fact that touchscreen has evolved as the most highly desirable user interface component.People started to integrate touchscreens into the fundamental design of every product.

History and evolution of touchscreen

You could skip these details related to evolution of touchscreen and directly move to next heading where you get the details and facts about the first touchscreen phone.

During the rapid rise of the computer in the second half of the twentieth century,people were always searching for the next best way to interact with them.The early days of punched cards and paper tape became too cumbersome as computers advanced and keyboards became the input device of choice.


In the 1960’s, U.S. inventor Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse,which represented a milestone in computer interaction.The next big leap forward came in 1971 when Dr.Samuel C.Hurst invented the electronic touch screen interface.While teaching at the University of Kentucky, he was faced with the daunting task of reading a huge amount of data from a strip chart.Realizing that this work would normally take graduate students at least two months to complete,he decided to work on an easier method.

What he came up with was the Elograph coordinate measuring system.It was an input tablet that could measure where the user was pressing a stylus.Hurst quickly formed the Elographics company (now Elo TouchSystems) to make and sell the device.Working furiously to develop their concept,Hurst and his team took just three years to make a proper transparent version that could sit over a screen.Four years later,in 1977,they came up with what was to become the most popular technology for touch screens today.The five-wire resistive touch screen contains transparent layers that are squeezed together by the pressure of a finger touching them.Easily translated into electrical resistive data,this modern touchscreen is durable and offers high resolution.

When was the first touchscreen phone invented?

The first touchscreen phone was launched in 1992 by IBM.The IBM Simon is also referred as the first smartphone.Simon is the first smartphone to be incorporated with the features of a PDA. It was refined further and marketed to consumers in 1994 by BellSouth corporation an American telecommunications holding company based in Atlanta, Georgia.When it was launched, it was launched under the name  Simon Personal Communicator.

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator and charging base

Not just receiving and making phone calls, it was also able to send e-mails, faxes and messages.It also featured very useful applications like calendar,appointment scheduler, calculator, world clock,electronic notepad, address book etc.,

What is the operating system (OS) in the first touchscreen phone?

Simon used the file system from Datalight ROM-DOS and IBM has created a beautiful touchscreen interface for this first smartphone ever.Though the OS is Disk Operating System, no DOS prompt existed.It has incorporated a user interface software layer over the prompt and called it the Navigator.It is capable of running third party applications and could be upgraded to do so.Georgia based PDA dimensions developed the only third party application named “DispatchIt” for Simon.It was a Remote Desktop software and costs were $2,999 for the host PC software and $299 for each Simon software client.


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About Sai Prashanth

IT professional. Love to write.