clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Springboard: The Secret History of the First Real Smartphone is out now

How the early pioneers of the smartphone almost made it big.

A decade before Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, a tiny team of renegades imagined and tried to build the modern smartphone. Nearly forgotten by history, a little startup called Handspring tried to make the future before it was ready. In Springboard: the secret history of the first real smartphone, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn talks to the visionaries at Handspring and dives into their early successes and eventual failures.

It’s a half-hour-long documentary featuring the key players at Palm and Handspring: Donna Dubinsky, Jeff Hawkins, Ed Colligan, and more. It’s one of our most ambitious video projects to date, and we can’t wait to show it to you.

Handspring may no longer be a household name, but it was briefly one of the fastest growing businesses in American history, selling Visor personal digital assistants. But the company had bigger aspirations: it saw a mobile future and took the first steps toward what would become the modern smartphone — even as it faced skepticism from the entire industry.

The dream of the Handspring Treo turned out to be too far ahead of its time — before either the technology inside smartphones or the industry that sold them was ready for it. And a number of bad internal decisions and outside disasters would stall Handspring long enough that Apple would go on to do what Handspring couldn’t.

Springboard is also a look at an earlier time in tech — when the dot com bubble was bursting, but big tech hadn’t coalesced into five or six titanic monoliths. It was a time when many futures seemed possible, even one where a tiny startup could win the coming smartphone wars.

Springboard is now streaming worldwide. You can watch it on The Verge’s new app on Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, or Apple TV.

Visit your preferred streaming device’s app store and search for “The Verge,” or follow the instructions for each of the streaming devices you can use:

AMAZON FIRE

  • From the Amazon Fire Home screen, select “Find.”
  • Select “Search.”
  • In the search box, type “The Verge” and then select the search icon.
  • From the results feed, scroll down to “Apps & Games.”
  • Scroll through until you find “The Verge.”
  • Select “The Verge” and then click on “Download.”

ANDROID TV

  • From the Android TV Home screen, scroll to Apps.”
  • Select the Google Play store app.
  • Navigate to the search bar on the upper right hand side and then type “The Verge.”
  • Scroll through search results until you find “The Verge.”
  • Select “The Verge” and click “Install.”

ROKU

  • From the Roku Home screen, scroll to “Streaming channels.”
  • Scroll down to “Search Channels.”
  • In the search box, type “The Verge.”
  • Scroll through search results until you find “The Verge.”
  • Select “The Verge” and then select “Add Channel.”

APPLE TV

  • From your Apple TV Home screen, scroll down to “App Store.”
  • Navigate to the search bar and then type “The Verge.”
  • Scroll through search results until you find “The Verge.”
  • Select “The Verge” and click “Get.”

WHERE TO WATCH

Platformer

Jack steps back

Tech

Ludwig, the streamer who broke the all-time Twitch subs record this year, is moving to YouTube Gaming

Web

eBay purchases sneaker authentication service Sneaker Con

View all stories in Tech