So farewell to the cheesy phone OS

The not unexpected news that Nokia have finally given up on it’s Symbian mobile phone operating system is still sad news. Symbian owes its existence to the plucky (yes I know a cliche) British firm of Psion, original develops of computer games for Sinclair and developers of the first generation of PDAs. Needing a relatively powerful operating system which allowed multi-taking, could drive a simple graphic user interface with low power consumption, Psion developed EPOC the  “Electronic Piece Of Cheese”.

EPOC was developed over ten years from the late 1980’s powering such iconic devices at least for us Brits as the Psion Series 3 PDA. EPOC had developed into a full 32bit operating system by 1997, and was renamed Symbian and in 1998 Psion itself became part of Symbian a joint venture with the major mobile phone manufacturers of the time; Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia with the aim of producing software to run mobile phones.

And the rest is history.. Symbian increasing lead by Nokia as the other phone manufactures dropped out became increasing complex both from a developer perspective but more importantly from a user perspective.. a point driven home when the iPhone hit the market.

So we come to last weeks burning platform memo, and the jump to Microsoft, a sad end to another British innovation that lost it’s way ?

Incidentally if I was in charge of a burning oil platform and had to command my crew to jump into the dark waters below, I’m not sure if would be very wise to direct everybody to get on just one of the lifeboats in the water, and really dangerous to all get on the smallest.. Still what do I know about maritime safety !

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

5 replies on “So farewell to the cheesy phone OS”

I once went out to the desert with a hardcore oil surveyor who swore by his Psion PDA. He’d done all kinds of crazy DIY things to it like hook it up to a GPS before most people had even heard of satnav. What he loved most about it was that “you just switch it on and bang – there it is”, no booting, no crashing, no unnecessary frills. Almost unheard of in those days. It just did what it said on the tin. Some of today’s products could take some inspiration from this.

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