My Vintage Computer Virtual Museum and blog page.

IBM Simon (BellSouth)

My IBM Simon (added to my collection in 1999)
The original “smartphone”

I don’t know a lot about this things specs, but I can tell you its over 1lb, its screen is EL back-lit, it has some kind of accessory port on the bottom, and a PCMCIA (Type II) slot above that (for flash memory cards, IBM offered a 1mb and 1.8mb card, to the tune of $250-300).  No idea what OS it runs, one site claims Zaurus OS, but I am pretty sure that’s incorrect since the 1994 BYTE article says its running ROM-DOS, same site also claims 1mb rom and 1mb ram and a 160×293 resolution on the screen, the ram/rom is confirmed by the article, however screen res is unconfirmed.  According to a 1994 article from BYTE: “The CPU is a 16-bit x86-compatible processor running at 16 MHz, a single-chip design manufactured by Vadem. Simon runs a version of DOS called ROM-DOS, from Datalight, and has 32 KB of ROM dedicated to the system’s BIOS. There’s 2 MB of flash memory that stores Simon’s built-in applications (from 1 MB, using Stacker compression), and another 1 MB of pseudo-static RAM for running the programs and storing user data. Roughly 640 KB of this memory is actually available for your use.” ( – copy of BYTE article)

This ones battery is toast, but I have applied power to the battery terminals and this thing does boot up, haven’t ever really played with it much since its kinda hard to use with alligator clips on battery terminals tethered to a bench power supply. Someone brought this in to a computer retailer where I was working over 10 years ago wanting to recycle it, it was something I had never seen before. I wasn’t going to let it go get shredded (it was cool with the store owner, his recycling company charged him per pound, so anything he didn’t have to pay to get rid of was good for him).

NOTE: This is an AMPS phone, and with AMPS service no longer supported past 2008, this is a really big paper weight basically. It is only useful if you have the RJ11 phone-line “accessory port” adapter (which I do NOT own). Even though I cannot use this for anything practically, I am keeping it because it is a VERY cool example of the FIRST SmartPhone, your iPhone/Android’s Great-Grandpa 😉




    I am interested with your IBM Simon. Is it possible for me to purchase it for USD 400? I live in Jakarta Indonesia

    Thanks and please kindly reply


    • rwallmow says:

      Sorry, while I appreciate the offer, my collection is not for sale.



        Ok Understood. Thank goodness I already manage to secure one IBM Simon for myself from ebay.

        I wonder, you said that it might be useful as a phone if I have an rj11 phone line. It means this phone could be used to call using a land line phone system?

        • rwallmow says:

          I am glad you were able to find one for your collection.

          From my understanding the RJ11 adapter only allows Data and Fax calls through the Simon’s modem over a land line, no voice calling.

          • DJOKO SLAMET PRASETIYO says:

            I just got an RJ11 connector today. I will test the phone using landline, and if it is works, I will let you know


    just tested it, and it could make a call just fine and sending fax to my office just fine 😀

  3. Ludek says:

    Has anyone ever seen the Rj11 adaptor cable?

  4. Alexander says:

    Intersted in sourcing a Simon for our National Computer Museum.
    Any sources out there?

  5. brian lee says:

    i have this phone make a offer
    should be i a musaim

    • Ryan says:

      I’ve already got one, don’t need duplicates in my collection, but you could always try other museums such as the Living Computer Museum and Labs in Seattle WA, or the Computer History Museum in Mountain View CA, or in WI.

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