The Old Mobile Phone
The world’s first cell phone call was made on April 3, 1973, when Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, called a rival telecommunications company and informed them that he was talking on a cell phone. The phone Cooper was using, if it could be called that, weighed 1.1 kg and measured 228.6x127x44.4 mm. With this prototype device, it has 30 minutes of talk time and takes about 10 hours to charge.
In the early days of cell phones, they were not designed with consumers in mind. You needed a couple of thousand dollars to get one, and even then the performance was not excellent. Back then, cell phones were designed with people like Gordon Gecko in mind – businessmen who drove big boats and flew Concord. It’s not your average person.
From the menhir-type “brick phones” of the 1980s to the iconic Nokia phones, these are some of the phones that pushed the boundaries of what was possible and paved the way for today’s smart phones. Below is a list of the most iconic phones that spearheaded the evolution to the phones we have today.
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1985: Motorola Dynatac 8000X
Known in the industry as “the brick” and visible in many scenes of the 1987 Wall Street movie, the Motorola Dynatac 800X was the first handheld cell phone and announced aloud the beginning of a new era.
1992: Nokia 1011
The world’s first mass-production phone to use the new GSM digital standard, the Nokia 1011 was “available in any color, as long as it’s black. The specifications included a monochrome LCD display, extendable antenna and a memory capable of storing 99 phone numbers.
1996: Motorola StarTAC
The most expensive and desirable phone on the market at the time of its launch, the StarTac debuted with a shell design and was the lightest and smallest phone on the market. It was also the first phone to be openly marketed as a luxury item.
1997: The Hagenuk GlobalHandy
This small, little known, German-made phone was the first phone that had no visible external antenna.
1998: Siemens S10
The first color screen phone, the Siemens S10 was a reference device by any criteria. Although its uninspiring design and small 97 x 54 pixel screen failed to set the world on fire, it more than deserves a place in the annals of cell phone history.
1998: Nokia 5110
Sponsor of the London Fashion Week in 1999, it was an instant success and launched the fashion of personalizing your phone.
1999: Nokia 7110
Another novelty for the Finnish phone manufacturer, the 7110 was the first phone with a WAP browser. This meant that it was capable of browsing the Internet. Or at least an incredibly slow, stripped-down version that was of little use to most people. But for all that, it was a big step toward the multi-functionality that is at the heart of today’s smart phones.
1999: Motorola Timeport
This was the first tri-band GSM phone, which means it worked everywhere in the world. A must have for the self-proclaimed citizens of the world. And the hordes of Gen X-ers heading to Asia on the backpacker trail. As was the fashion at the time.
2000: Nokia 9210 Communicator
The first serious attempt at a cell phone with Internet access, the communicator was ahead of its time. It weighed about 400g, so it was no one’s idea of a pocketbook. But on the plus side, it had 8 MB of storage and a full keyboard, you could use it as a personal organizer, as well as a web browser and email support.
2000: Sharp J-SH04
Considered the first commercially available camera phone, Sharp’s effort was only sold in Japan and had a camera resolution of 0.11MP. “Blurrycam”.
2000: Nokia 3310
Legendarily resilient, 3310 was the phone that launched a thousand memes. And with 126 million units shipped, it stands as one of the best-selling phones of all time. The battery lasted for days and was lightweight and truly pocket-sized at only 133g. It also introduced the Snake game, customizable ringtones and a silent ‘vibrate’ mode.
2003: Nokia 1100
The Nokia 1100 was launched as a basic phone for countries in the developing world in 2003. The best part of a decade and a half and a smartphone boom later, it is still the best-selling cell phone of all time.
2004: Motorola Razr V3
The last great folding phone, the Razr was incredibly thin at only 14mm. Unusually for the moment, it also had an aluminum casing that seemed painfully slippery. Ironically, the overwhelming success of the Razr was probably the main cause of Motorola’s downfall.
In hindsight, it is clear that over-reliance on the U.S. phone manufacturer in this successful and iconic series caused the company to fall behind by not innovating and competing with the soon-to-be-arrived large-screen phones from LG and Samsung.
2003: Blackberry 6210
The first true Blackberry phone, which integrated a phone with fully functional email, web browsing and the much loved Blackberry Messenger.
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