Earliest fictional smartphones
March 4, 2010 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in the earliest fictional portrayals of smartphone-like devices.

I'd think that Star Trek communicators don't really count (since they're more like regular cell phones), but Dick Tracy's wrist computer does, since it works as a mobile phone _and_ has some computer functionality.

posted by Clambone to Technology (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's been many years since I read it, but I believe Fahrenheit 451 had one character, who had a postcard-sized television. So that might fall under the category of "smartphone-like device" since it's audio-video but small and compact. No computer or communications function, though...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:11 AM on March 4, 2010

Jules Verne's Phonotelephote is from 1889 but more of a videophone I suppose.
posted by vacapinta at 8:22 AM on March 4, 2010

The British Sci-Fi show Space: 1999 , which was produced in the 70's, used hand-held communication devices that had TV screens for face to face video communication and they also were used to open the doors to various areas on Moonbase Alpha. I don't recall if they could do anything beyond these functions though...
posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:24 AM on March 4, 2010

What is a Star Trek communicator, if not a smart phone? It has geolocation and voice-dialing features too.
posted by bonehead at 8:32 AM on March 4, 2010

HG Wells came quite close in 1933.
posted by permafrost at 8:35 AM on March 4, 2010

The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 1978

The Primer in Neil Stephenson's The Diamond Age from the mid 90s.
posted by rongorongo at 8:55 AM on March 4, 2010

Arthur C Clarke theorized the "newspad" in 1968, a portable multimedia viewer. According to this handy page, in 1899 HG Wells had a PDA-like display in The Sleeper Awakes.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:20 AM on March 4, 2010

The Mote in God's Eye (1974) has some smartphone like pad computers.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on March 4, 2010

Dick Tracy's various wrist-equipment was always slightly ahead of the curve - as technology progressed, his gadget was always one step ahead of what was currently possible.
posted by GJSchaller at 11:55 AM on March 4, 2010

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