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How Susie Armstrong invented the smartphone

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How Susie Armstrong invented the smartphone

The smartphone has changed everything. But the woman who made this technology possible in the first place is not famous and doesn’t make a fuss about herself. Wrongfully so, says technology editor Gioia da Silva.

“NZZ accent”: How Susie A. invented the smartphone

Author Antonia Moser, Simon Schaffer

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In this podcast episode:

Basel, November 2023. An older woman in a pants suit enters the stage. The visitors listen to her with excitement. Susie Armstrong, vice president of one of the most important companies in the world, Qualcomm, begins to speak. After a while the audience becomes restless and some start looking at their smartphones. Because Susie Armstrong doesn’t tell us how she started a revolution with her invention. Instead, she goes into great detail and talks about her company, about artificial intelligence, about the American patent system.

“She would have a lot to brag about,” says technology editor Gioia da Silva. Because Armstrong brought the Internet to smartphones with her invention. She had the idea of ​​packing data into packages and sending them. To do this, she hacks the programming of the radio antennas – and makes them transport data instead of just sound waves.

This has resulted in a surge in innovation: today it is impossible to imagine our mobile phones without data. But Armstrong didn’t become famous that way. On the contrary, she displays a remarkably small ego and emphasizes that such inventions are never due to just one individual. “That makes it very deep,” says Gioia da Silva in the podcast, “because Armstrong holds more than two dozen other important patents in the mobile communications sector.” This kind of restraint is a rarity, especially in the tech sector.

You can find all episodes of “NZZ Kompakt” in this overview.

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