Mobile phones today don’t look anything like the first mobile phones that hit the market. Of course, we all know that. The iPhone is considered today’s cutting-edge phone and it looks significantly different from a lot of the phones on the market so it’s easy to see that phones change with the times. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to remember what those old mobile phones used to look like. After all, we’ve got short attention spans and we can barely remember what the last phone we had looked like; how are we supposed to remember our first cell phones? Those old cell phones are fun to remember if you can manage to revive those old memories, though.
Here’s a look back at some of the world’s first cell phones. It’s hard to believe that we ever used to make calls on some of these phones. And what’s even harder to imagine is that it won’t be long before the phones that we use today seem as outdated to us as these ones do now!
1. Martin Cooper and the First Cell Phone. You might not recognize Martin Cooper’s name but you’ve probably seen his picture because he was photographed excessively when he made the first call on the world’s first cell phone back in 1973. The phone call was placed to a rival working at Bell who was also attempting to make a mobile phone. It happened on the streets of New York City and people were apparently struck dumb by the site. It’s funny to think about today since you’d be hard pressed to find someone walking New York City’s streets today without a cell phone in their hand or pocket. This phone may be clunky and impossible to use today but it’s the one that set the stage for all that came after it.
2. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. This was the first handheld mobile phone made available to the market in the United States. From the time that Cooper made that first phone until the time that this one finally made its way to the shelves, a number of prototypes were created. The FCC approved this phone for use in 1983 and it went down in history as the first real mobile phone for the average user. Of course, the average person couldn’t afford the hefty price of a mobile phone back then (almost $4000) so it was really only for a limited group of people. Sales of the phone were also limited by the fact that the battery would only last one hour and would then need to charge for ten hours before it could be used again.
3. The Block Cell Phone. The first cell phone that most of us remember is the one that’s now called “the block” or “the brick“. The name comes from the fact that it was about the shape and size of a traditional brick. It wasn’t quite as heavy as a brick, of course, although it might feel like it today to those of us that are used to using the thinnest and lightest cell phones available on the market. These were the phones that were available to people in the 1980′s, the phones that were based on the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X design. They came with huge battery charging stands that were significantly larger than mobile phones themselves are today.
4. The Shoulder Bag Battery. At least the block cell phones came with battery chargers that you could leave at home (even if it did take forever for them to charge the phone for only a short period of usage). These other old cell phones required that you actually carry the battery with you in the form of what is essentially a shoulder bag. You might notice that this “mobile phone” is actually larger than most traditional landline phones, even the old rotary phones. Yes, it’s mobile and the landline is not but it sure could cause you some serious back pain if you had to use it too often!
5. Motorola MicroTAC. This phone was first made in the late 1980′s and it introduced an “innovative” new design that included a flip-open mouthpiece. Believe it or not, this was the smallest and lightest mobile phone available at the time that it was first offered which made people really interested in getting it. The prohibitive $3000 price caused sales to be low but the phone remains important to the history of mobile phone development.
6. Nokia 9000 Communicator. Anyone who is familiar with Nokia’s Communicator line of phones will have to do a double-take when looking at the original because it’s so much bigger and bulkier than the ones we are familiar with today. This one was made back in 1996 so it’s just over a decade old; a lot can change in ten years! It was considered important for its time though because it offered “advanced” features like SMS messaging and fax capabilities. It may not be a phone that we would appreciate today but people doing business in the late 1990′s had a lot of favorable things to say about this technology.
7. Blackberry 850. The original Blackberry Device that was introduced in the late 1990′s was designed to function like a two-way pager and in fact was originally called the Inter@ctive Pager. It had a built-in keyboard and was marketed towards professionals. It’s a far cry from the Blackberry that we see the average person using as a mobile phone today!
8. The Modern Old Phone. Don’t let this one fool you. This phone was actually made within the last couple of years when the handset makers realized that people have a nostalgic streak inside of them. It’s designed to look like those old brick phones from the 1980′s but it has the modern features of a newer cell phone. It’s nice for a novelty but there’s a good reason that we stopped using those big old phones and there’s not much of a good reason to go back to using them. There’s a niche place in the market for this but it’s not likely to be something we’ll see much of in the future.