August 15, 2014 3:50 pm

World’s first smartphone turns 20: Oh, how the world has changed

An original IBM Simon Personal Communicator is handled by a member of staff at the Science Museum on August 15, 2014 in London, England.

Rob Stothard/Getty Images

TORONTO – It’s hard to argue that as our smartphones have become more sophisticated, we’ve come to rely on them more. So much so that it may be surprising that one of the world’s first smartphone-like devices is only 20 years old.

The IBM Simon “Personal Communicator” – which is largely regarded as the first smartphone on the market – went on sale Aug. 16, 1994. The phone was the first of its kind to feature apps and had the ability to be connected to a fax machine.

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READ MORE: The evolution of cellphones – 40 years of gadgets

The device only had about an hour of battery power and cost nearly US$900.

While some smartphones today are close in price (and battery life is still an issue), the devices have certainly evolved. And in turn, so have our daily habits.

No one knows each other’s phone numbers off by heart

Remember the days when you had every single one of your friends’ phone numbers memorized?

Thanks to the handy “Contacts” app, the ability to memorize a series of numbers has seemingly disappeared. In fact, thanks to personal contact cards on some devices, some might not even know their own cellphone number off by heart.

Admit it, would you’d be lost without your smartphone contact list.

It’s impossible to bail on plans, or lie about what you’re doing

Bailing on plans with friends is nearly impossible now that we document our entire lives online.

With social networking and apps that allow you to “Check In” to your location, the second you forget that you lied about what you’re doing Saturday night the jig is up.

Cellphones in general have made it hard to avoid phone calls and texts too – no longer does the excuse “I wasn’t home” work and everyone knows you are bound to read that text eventually.

Watches are just accessories

Honestly, when was the last time you looked at your watch for the time instead of checking your phone?

Does anyone use a paper map anymore?

Gone are the days when people kept fold-out paper road maps in the car, or printed out their Google Maps itinerary. Now, we just connect our smartphones to our car stereos via Bluetooth and listen as a computerized voice guides our road trips.

(Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to keep a paper road map on hand if you are travelling in rural areas with spotty coverage – better safe than lost!)

We document every single moment

Sure, you probably get sick of redundant posts documenting what your friends ate for lunch, countless selfies and droves of baby pictures – but when you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we can document almost every moment in our lives thanks to our trusty smartphones.

You no longer have to say, “I wish I had my camera with me for this.”

Apps control our lives

Need to track your daily exercise? There’s an app for that. Want to keep track of how much water you’re drinking? There’s an app for that. Have to make a grocery list? There’s an app for that. Need a reminder about that deadline at work? There’s an app for that too.

Need I say more?

What are some of the most notable changes you have experienced since getting a smartphone? Tell us in the comments.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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