History of Symbian

Discussion in 'Other Operating Systems' started by Magellan, Jun 24, 2008.

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  1. Magellan

    Magellan Moderator of Ill repute Super Moderator

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    With the recent news of Nokia purchasing the rest of Symbian, I thought I would post a history of Symbian for those who are curious. This is from the Wikipedia.


    In 1980, Psion was founded by David Potter.

    After the failure of the MC400 Psion released its Series 3 devices from 1991 to 1998 which also used the EPOC16 OS, also known as SIBO, which supported a simple programming language called OPL and an IDE called OVAL.

    EPOC OS Releases 1–3
    Work started on the from-scratch 32 bit version in late 1994. The Series 5 device, released in June 1997, used the first iterations of the EPOC32 OS, codenamed 'Protea' and developed from scratch in 3.5 years, and the 'Eikon' GUI.

    EPOC Release 4
    Internal only release.

    EPOC Release 5
    The Psion Series 5mx, Series 7, Psion Revo, Diamond Mako, Psion Netbook, netPad, GeoFox One, Oregon's Osaris, and Ericsson MC218 were released in 1999 using ER5. A phone project was announced at CeBIT, the Phillips Illium/Accent, but did not achieve a commercial release. This release has been retrospectively dubbed Symbian OS 5, it was never called that at the time.

    The first phone, the Ericsson R380 was released using ER5u in November 2000. It was not an 'open' phone – software could not be installed. Notably, a number of never-released Psion prototypes for next generation PDAs, including a Bluetooth Revo successor codenamed Conan were using ER5u. The 'u' in the name refers to the fact that it supported Unicode.

    Symbian OS v6.0 and 6.1
    Sometimes called ER6. The first 'open' Symbian OS phone, the Nokia 9210 Communicator, was released in June 2001. Bluetooth support added. Almost 500,000 Symbian phones were shipped in 2001, rising to 2.1 million the following year.

    Development of different UIs was made generic with a "reference design strategy" for either 'smartphone' or 'communicator' devices, subdivided further into keyboard- or tablet-based designs. Two reference UIs (DFRDs) were shipped - Quartz and Crystal. The former was merged with Ericsson's 'Ronneby' design and became the basis for the UIQ interface, the latter reached the market as the Nokia Series 80 UI.

    Later DFRDs were Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald. Only Sapphire came to market, evolving into the Pearl DFRD and finally the Nokia Series 60 UI, a keypad-based 'square' UI for the first true smartphones. The first one of them was the Nokia 7650 smartphone (featuring Symbian OS 6.1), which was also the first with a builtin camera, with VGA (0.3 Mpx = 640*480) resolution.

    Despite these efforts to be generic the UI was clearly split between competing companies, Crystal or Sapphire was Nokia, Quartz was Ericsson. DFRD was abandoned by Symbian in late 2002, as part of an active retreat from UI development in favour of 'headless' delivery. Pearl was given to Nokia, Quartz development was spun-off as UIQ Technology AB, and work with Japanese firms was quickly folded into the MOAP standard.

    Symbian OS 7.0 and 7.0s
    First shipped in 2003. This is 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, 6600, 7310) as well as several FOMA phones in Japan. It also added EDGE support and IPv6. Java support was changed from pJava and JavaPhone to one based on the Java ME standard.

    One million Symbian phones were shipped in Q1 2003, with the rate increasing to one million a month by the end of 2003.

    Symbian OS 7.0s was a version of 7.0 special adapted to have greater backwards compatibility with Symbian OS 6.x, partly for compatibility between the Communicator 9500 and its predecessor the Communicator 9210.

    In 2004, Psion sold its stake in Symbian. The same year, the first worm for mobile phones using Symbian OS, Cabir, was developed, which used Bluetooth to spread itself to nearby phones. See Cabir and Symbian OS threats.

    Symbian OS 8.0
    First shipped in 2004, one of its advantages would have been a choice of two different kernels (EKA1 or EKA2). However, the EKA2 kernel version did not ship until Symbian OS 8.1b. The kernels behave more or less identically from user-side, but are internally very different. EKA1 was chosen by some manufacturers to maintain compatibility with old device drivers, while EKA2 was a real-time kernel. 8.0b was deproductized in 2003.

    Also included were new APIs to support CDMA, 3G, two-way data streaming, DVB-H, and OpenGL ES with vector graphics and direct screen access.

    Symbian OS 8.1
    Basically a cleaned-up version of 8.0, this was available in 8.1a and 8.1b versions, with EKA1 and EKA2 kernels respectively. The 8.1b version, with EKA2's single-chip phone support but no additional security layer, was popular among Japanese phone companies desiring the real-time support but not allowing open application installation. The first and maybe the most famous smartphone featuring Symbian OS 8.1a was Nokia N90 in 2005, Nokia's first in Nseries. It comes with Carl-Zeiss Tessar optics and a 2 Mpx (1600*1200) camera with video capabilities to take VHS quality (352*288) videos and a huge screen resolution (at the time) of 352*416 pixels.

    Symbian OS 9.0
    This version was used for internal Symbian purposes only. It was deproductised in 2004. 9.0 marked the end of the road for EKA1. 8.1a is the final EKA1 version of Symbian OS.

    Symbian OS has generally maintained reasonable binary compatibility. In theory the OS was BC from ER1-ER5, then from 6.0 to 8.1b. Substantial changes were needed for 9.0, related to tools and security, but this should be a one-off event. The move from requiring ARMv4 to requiring ARMv5 did not break backwards compatibility.

    A Symbian developer proclaims that porting from Symbian 8.x to Symbian 9.x is a more daunting process than Symbian says.[2]

    Symbian OS 9.1
    Released early 2005. It includes many new security related features, particularly a controversial platform security module facilitating mandatory code signing. Symbian argues that applications and content, and therefore a developers investment, are better protected than ever, however others contend that the requirement that every application be signed (and thus approved) violates the rights of the end-user, the owner of the phone, and limits the amount of free software available. The new ARM EABI binary model means developers need to retool and the security changes mean they may have to recode. S60 platform 3rd Edition phones have Symbian OS 9.1. Sony Ericsson is shipping the M600 and P990 based on Symbian OS 9.1. The earlier versions had a fatal defect where the phone hangs temporarily after the owner sent hundreds of SMS'es. However, on 13 September 2006, Nokia released a small program to fix this defect.[3]

    Support for Bluetooth 2.0 (was 1.2)

    Symbian OS 9.2
    Released Q1 2006. Support for OMA Device Management 1.2 (was 1.1.2). S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 phones have Symbian OS 9.2. Nokia phones with Symbian OS 9.2 OS: Nokia E90, Nokia N95,Nokia E51, Nokia 5700, Nokia N81, Nokia 6290, Nokia 6120 classic, Nokia N82.

    Symbian OS 9.3
    Released on 12 July 2006. Upgrades include improved memory management and native support for Wifi 802.11, HSDPA, Vietnamese language support. The Nokia N96 as well as the Nokia N78 will feature Symbian OS 9.3.

    Symbian OS 9.5
    Announced in March 2007. Provides the concept of demand paging which is available from v9.3 onwards. Applications should launch up to 75% faster. Native support for mobile digital television broadcasts in DVB-H and ISDB-T formats and also location services. Additionally, SQL support is provided by SQLite.
  2. Antoine Wright

    Antoine Wright Neighborhood Mobilist Super Moderator

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    Dang near seems full circle when you think about it
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