Apple did not invent the smartphone

The smartphone is a device that has taken the world by storm. 18% of the world own one and rely on them day-in, day-out. Arguably a more important invention than the television or the phone itself.

The 'Smartphone' term was first coined by Ericsson in 1997 at the launch of their new GS88 phone. Other terms around this time included 'feature phones' or 'PDAs'. Microsoft at this time coined a nice definition for similar devices running their OS as:

"a handheld device that enables users to store and retrieve e-mail, contacts, appointments, tasks, play multimedia files, games, exchange text messages with Windows Live Messenger (formerly known as MSN Messenger), browse the Web, and more"

With such an important device in our lives, surely reputable sources of information online would outline the pioneers, devices, operating systems and their full history?

Lets look at some examples of large sites:
Guardian - Read all about Apple's inventions, I mean the smartphone timeline
ZDnet - Explore 4% of the history of the smartphone
Wikipedia - Windows Pocket Pc gets one paragraph even though it has 400 devices seven years before the emerging iPhone

and some small sites:
BitRebels - a good attempt at covering some of the devices
TimeToToast - a wide range of devices

The main sites have completely ignored the older devices and seem to be writing a new history of the smartphone with Apple as the inventor. This is quite disturbing because Apple should only be credited with bringing the smartphone to the masses and making app downloads easier.

As part of my attempts to correct the obvious bias in the history of smartphone. I have created a graphic showing some of the interesting devices that were launched between 1996-2007. I've decided to focus only  on smartphones with large screens, touch capable, without keyboards, with apps and internet enabled.

This is by no means a full list, but gives you an idea of the developments occurring up to ten years before the iPhone was even conceptualised. Notice the similarities of features and even the name of the iPaq?!

Smartphone timeline between 1996-2007