Ever wondered why your smartphone is a specific size/shape/color? Or thought about who designed your phone or came up with its name?
We spend so much time with our smartphones that it’s natural to speculate how these devices came to be. And many of the stories behind these gadgets are truly fascinating.
However, the super-competitive and secretive nature of the smartphone industry keeps most of these stories from being told publicly. That’s a shame — for the millions of smartphone fans around the world, the talented designers/engineers/developers/marketers who work on these phones and for future generations who will no doubt wonder how a single gadget revolutionized so many industries (telecommunications, computing, advertising, retail, etc.) so quickly.
As a technology reporter and history buff (I majored in American history), I’ve long thought smartphone backstories were interesting and valuable. And now I’m launching a new website called The Smartphone History Project (SHP for short) to preserve and share these stories.
The SHP is an online collection of stories about smartphone design and development told by the very people who created the devices. My goal for the SHP is threefold: to celebrate the people who make these gadgets on which we rely so much; to entertain technology enthusiasts with colorful, engaging journalism; and to remove some of the mystery surrounding these complex devices.
This last part is important. Many of us spend hundreds of dollars a year and hours every day on our smartphones, but don’t understand what goes into these devices or how they are made or marketed. Knowing more about the smartphone development process will help people recognize the many ways smartphones are shaping their lives — from sociocultural effects to environmental and health impacts.
I grew interested in these topics while reporting and writing a book about the smartphone industry. That book, The Smartphone: Anatomy of an Industry, was published one year ago, in September 2014. My book covers many issues related to the smartphone business, but I was particularly fascinated by the question of how smartphones first emerged. I ended up spending two chapters describing the way cellphones, PDAs and pagers evolved and eventually fused into a single device.
The SHP is a way I can share my passion for technology history on an ongoing basis. (I will also write about technology history elsewhere, such as my recent story about the Cisco Archive on Medium.com.)
I hope you’ll check out the SHP site! And if you played a role in the development of a major smartphone, I hope you’ll contribute a story about your experience or submit a request to be interviewed.