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Friday, November 26, 2010

The History of Symbian

The roots of Symbian and the Symbian Foundation stretch back to the very start of mobile computing, when smart minds coalesced around the idea of finding the best ways to mobilize computing—to help people do things better, faster, now.

From its earliest days, the idea that became Symbian was all about collaboration—starting with David Potter's early 1980s designs of games and office productivity software for Sinclair's personal computers, a partnership that launched the "Psion" name. Those programs helped give birth in 1984 to the Psion Organizer, the world's first handheld computer—and one that would quickly support a simple-to-use database programming language, OPL.

The collaborative support from the industry for the growing power of the Psion software base led to the historic formation in 1998 of Symbian, a joint venture between Psion and phone manufacturers Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. Over the next few years Symbian helped bring forth the explosion of mobile device innovation—with Symbian software at the base of more than 100 million phones by 2006.

In 2008, the next step of Symbian evolution took place, with Nokia purchasing all Symbian assets and starting the software down the path to open source. As the Symbian Foundation and all its members look to the future and the billions of forthcoming interconnected mobile devices, it will be innovative collaboration—working together —that will help make people more productive, more creative and more entertained than ever before.

  • 1980: Psion founded by David Potter
  • 1984: Psion Organiser launched
  • 1986: the "vastly improved" Psion Organiser II launches, with a simple-to-use database programming language, OPL.
  • 1987: Psion begins development of its "SIBO" ("SIxteen Bit Organiser") family of devices and its own new multitasking operating system called EPOC to run its PDA products.
  • 1989: First EPOC16 devices, the MC400 and MC200, ship with a primarily 1-bit, keyboard-operated graphical interface.
  • 1997: The first version of EPOC32 Release 1 appeared on the Psion Series 5 ROM v1.0. The EPOC32 operating system, at the time simply referred to as EPOC, was later renamed Symbian OS. EPOC32 was a pre-emptive multitasking, single user operating system with memory protection, which encourages the application developer to separate their program into an engine and an interface.
  • 1998: In June Psion Software became Symbian, a major joint venture between Psion and phone manufacturers Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. As of Release 6, EPOC became known simply as Symbian OS.
  • 1999: The Psion Series 5mx, Psion Series 7, Psion Revo, Diamond Mako, Psion netBook, netPad, GeoFox One, and Ericsson MC218 were released using ER5. A phone project was announced at CeBIT, the Phillips Illium/Accent, but did not achieve a commercial release.
  • 2000: The first phone, the Ericsson R380 was released using ER5u in November.
  • 2001: The first 'open' Symbian OS phone, the Nokia 9210 Communicator, was released in June 2001. Bluetooth support was added. Almost 500,000 Symbian phones were shipped in 2001, rising to 2.1 million the following year.
  • 2003: First shipment of Symbian OS 7.0 and 7.0s, an important Symbian release which appeared with all contemporary user interfaces including UIQ (Sony Ericsson P800, P900, P910, Motorola A925, A1000), Series 80 (Nokia 9300, 9500), Series 90 (Nokia 7710), Series 60 (Nokia 3230, 6260, 6600, 6670, 7610) as well as several FOMA phones in Japan. It also added EDGE support and IPv6. One million Symbian phones were shipped in Q1 2003, with the rate increasing to one million a month by the end of 2003.
  • 2004: Psion sells its stake in Symbian.
  • 2006: 100 millionth phone with Symbian OS is shipped.
  • 2008: Symbian acquired by Nokia; Symbian Foundation formed.


Full HD output, Nokia N8 was the first device to support Symbian^3, the C7 became available on the UK market on the 22nd of October 2010, and the C6-01 started shipping on the 8th November 2010 and the E7 is schedueled for December 2010. Symbian^3 is a big improvement over Symbian^1 and now features single touch menus, and also further improvements will come in the first half of 2011 including: portrait qwerty keyboard, a new browser and split-screen text input. Nokia announced that updates to Symbian^3 interface based on Qt will be delivered gradually, as they are available, instead of waiting for Symbian^4, the previously planned major release which is now discontinued.

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