Ever Heard of The Cidco iPhone?
by admin

It may seem surprising but Apple was not the first company to release a product called the iPhone. Back in 1998 a company called Cidco released an iPhone which seems like something of a relic now. Cidco have since ceased to exist. They were swallowed up by another company years ago and it seems unlikely many people will remember their iPhone device.

The Cidco iPhone was a landline phone which was also capable of accessing the web. It was a fairly bulky device with a handset and a standard keypad. It also included a 7.4 inch touch screen and a built in small QWERTY keyboard which slid out from the base of the device. It was designed to cater for all of your phone needs but also allow you to access your email account simply and quickly. In fact you could even use it to surf the web and it included a browser.

It was compatible with POP3 email servers and setting up your account was achieved simply and easily by pressing a button on the touch screen and entering the relevant information. The greyscale touch screen supported a 640 x 480 pixel resolution.

The Cidco iPhone also offered Caller ID with up to 100 entries. It had a built in state of the art speakerphone capability, call waiting functionality and three-way calling was supported. You could add up to 12 speed dial entries and store up to 200 numbers in the internal directory.

The main menu interface on the touch screen featured large icons and was obviously designed to be simple and straightforward to use. It allowed you to quickly connect to the Internet to find news, weather reports or just to download your email. You could also send email and use the included mini keyboard to type up messages or you could buy a separate full sized keyboard.

The machine could be used quickly and because you never had to wait for an operating system to boot up you could access the web or emails immediately. It offered support up to HTML 3.2 and so it wouldn’t display every website.

It is hard to imagine a device like this catching on now but at the time it was expected to be in huge demand. The most obvious problem with the Cidco iPhone was the fact that it couldn’t handle more than one line at once. This meant you couldn’t talk to someone on the phone and surf the web at the same time which would have been really handy. They did plan to add this functionality but the device never really took off.

It was supposed to be a useful business device and for desks lacking a computer it could have provided that all important web access without the need to shell out for an expensive desktop PC. It also saved space over a separate PC and phone although surfing on a small screen attached to your phone doesn’t really compare to using a proper monitor.

The Cidco iPhone was released at a price of around $500 per unit. In addition to that price tag you had to subscribe to Cidco’s Internet service which would have cost you a further $20 per month or $5 if you used a different Internet provider. It was pretty expensive really and although it created some buzz there was little uptake. In 2001 Cidco was acquired by Earthlink and their iPhone disappeared forever.


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