Friday, October 25, 2013
Walking around in the street today, you could be mistaken for thinking that just about every second person owns a smartphone, and that many of those owners are in fact glued to their screens, whilst walking, whilst having lunch, even whilst in face-to-face conversation with another person.
It wasn’t always like this though. Ten years ago, phones had much less functions than what they do today. Here are seven retro phones we loved back in the day.
Motorola MicroTAC 9880X (1989)
In the same year that the Tiananmen Square incident happened and the Berlin Wall fell, phone company Motorola released the MicroTAC 9880X, widely acknowledged as the first truly portable mobile phone. In the past, most cellular phones were installed as car phones because of their chunky size and weight. The MicroTAC changed all that, and in doing so, became the standard and model by which mobile phones were to develop from then on.
BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator (1993)
Launched almost twenty years ago, the IBM Simon was the first cellular phone to include both telephone and PDA features in one handy device. As arguably the first ever “smart” phone in existence, the IBM Simon allowed users to send and receive emails and faxes, both from typing and handwriting on the screen. It was never widely used, but paved the way for future mobile phone technologies.
Motorola StarTAC (1996)
Remember when flip phones were all the rage in the mid 2000s? The first flip phone ever on the market was in fact the Motorola StarTAC, way back in 1996. The StarTAC sold about 60 million units and appeared in many movies, leading to its cult status. Interesting fact: it was also one of the first cellular phones to introduce vibrate alert as an alternative to sounding a ringtone. Fancy that!
Nokia Communicator 9110 (1996)
1996 also saw the release of the Nokia Communicator 9110, which many experts today dub as the first Nokia smart phone ever made. Indeed, the 9110 was revolutionary, allowing users to Fax, email, send short messages, connect to digital cameras, browse the Web, and containing basic functions of Contacts, Notes, Calculator, and World Time Clock. And you thought it began with the iPhone…
Nokia 6110 (1997)
The Nokia 6110 holds the very special distinction of being the first phone from Nokia with the Snake game pre-installed. Remember Snake? That ever-popular video game became a standard on Nokia mobile phones from 1998, beloved by many. And let’s not forget Memory and Logic, two other pre-loaded games that also evoke fond memories of Nokia today.
Nokia 3310 (2000)
The Nokia 3310 is arguably one of the most well-known phones in the world today, selling 128 million units globally and receiving a cult status big enough to rival that of the iPhone. Back in its day, the 3310 was novel for featuring items such as a calculator, Nokia network monitor, stopwatch, and reminder function. Big fan of the threaded SMS chains on your phone today? They were around on the 3310 too.
Motorola RAZR (2004)
So this isn’t too retro, but we think it’s still worth a mention. In the third quarter of 2004, Motorola released the first phone as part of its RAZR series. The RAZR instantly drew attention for its slim profile and striking, metallic look. Indeed, at the time, it had the thinnest profile of any clamshell phones on the market, making its way onto TV shows such as Lost and Top Gear as an icon in its own right.
Lucy Holmes is a freelance writer who is interested in technology and especially the development of the mobile phone. She’s thankful there’s Flexirent to help her rent the latest phones.