Cell Phone Journey

First cell phone call kicks off an amazing journey (photos)

Summary: When Marty Cooper called his rival 40-years ago, he knew he had something good, but no clue aout how good. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly models in cell phone history.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first cell phone call when Marty Cooper of Motorola spoke to his rival Joel Engler at Bell Labs to gloat over the new invention. He made the call on a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x which weighed 2.5 pounds and had a single-line, text-only LED screen. The phone had a battery life of 20 minutes.
Let's take this opportunity to revive and update a gallery from 2006 showing the history of the cell phone — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Photo credit: CNET

The good, the bad and the ugly...?
The Dynatac lays claim to being the world's first proper mobile phone and was the first to sport the 'brick' look. While other 'mobile' devices had come before the Dynatac, they involved not only carrying a handset but lugging a huge briefcase-sized battery along with it.
The 'shoe phone', as it was known, first came onto the market in 1984 costing nearly $4,000 and promising around a half an hour of talk time. The Dynatac prospered nonetheless and inspired Nokia to come up with the Cityman, an equally heavyweight brick phone aimed at the business market. The candybar mobile was born.
By legend, the phone's key breakthrough came after is was used by Michael Douglas in the movie,Wall Street.
Photo credit: Motorola

More than a decade later and phones no longer required Popeye-style muscles to be carried around. Motorola dreamt up the Startac, one of the first notable clamshell designs - a form factor arch-rival Nokia has shunned by and large to the present day.
Among the other innovations the Startac brought to the market was the vibrating ring, and the device also sported a relatively new invention that operators didn't really think would be a big hit with consumers - the text message. In 2004, Motorola brought out a 10th anniversary edition.
Photo credit: Motorola

Before the worlds of Sony and Ericsson collided, Ericsson made some devices all on its own, including this pretty little phone, the T10. The T10 was one of the first devices to really capitalise on colour - the phone was available in pink, purple and blue, among other shades.
As the jarring shades proved, the handset was aimed at young consumers, launched at the time many people were getting their first mobile. It came with features that had the budget-conscious in mind, including advice on charging, four hours of talk time and the ability to compose ringtones.
Photo credit: Ericsson

Ericsson also gave us the world's first smart phone, the R380. The R380 was the first device to come equipped with the Symbian operating system and had all the functionality most businesspeople would take for granted: email, WAP, PIM.
But aside from its innovative innards, this smart device was an interesting take on the traditional form factor. Like the T10 before it, the R380 had a flip-down element, although the R380 made the additional space more about functionality than form. By larding the flip-down section with buttons, it allowed the R380 to have additional screen size - a trick Sony Ericsson still uses on its business phones today.
Photo credit: Ericsson

Nokia's first significant foray into a premium device for enterprises yielded the 9000, also known as the Communicator. While the device was never going to win any beauty contests - and its successors still bear the loving 'brick' soubriquet - it was packed with functionality for its time and designed with email-centric users in mind.
As well as getting your email, you could also use the device to pick up faxes, access PIM-type services and even go on the internet and sync the whole lot with your PC. Back in 1996, Nokia announced it saw a big opportunity around "the pocketable office". It's still working on that with its E-series of business devices, as well as the lastest in the Communicator line, the 9500, which still bears the same unlovely design.
Photo credit: Nokia

"I know kung-fu." So said Keanu Reeves' Matrix character Neo. As well as showcasing his acting and martial arts skills in the sci-fi blockbuster, Reeves introduced the world to the Nokia 8110 'banana phone', which allowed him to jump between worlds as well as providing voice calls and text messaging.
The Matrix-inspired device with talk-of-the-town side-release button hit the market in 1998 and inaugurated the age of the hidden-button slider phone. It also inspired the 7110, Nokia's first WAP phone. While WAP back then turned out to be the mobile equivalent of coal in your Christmas stocking, the 7110 did cement the craze for the annoyingly addictive Snakes game.
Photo credit: Nokia

When the 7600 hit the market, the device got as many cheers as it did jeers. The 7600 was Nokia's attempt to step into 3G with something a little bit different. Different it certainly was and with the number keys split to the left and right of the screen, heavy texters were often left tearing their hair out by the device. However, 3G devices had previously been ugly and clunky - charges that couldn't be levelled at the 7600.
The 7600 was also a significant indication that Nokia had begun to wake up to the fact that phones were becoming more than just candybars for talking and texting. This device also packed in an MP3 player, a camera with video capture and PIM features.
Photo credit: Nokia

Like the 7600, the Xelibri was its maker's attempt to take the phone into new realms of fashion. Siemens envisaged the Xelibri as the height of consumer must-have, with a spring and autumn 'collection' schedule encouraging consumers to update their phones as often as possible.
While the Xelibri brand only lasted some 18 months, its legacy is still oddly present. As well as ushering in the era of phones as design icons, the Xelibri also marked the start of a return to back-to-basics devices, where talking and texting were uppermost. It's a trend that's still hot in advanced markets such as Japan, where stripped-down phones like the RakuRaku concentrate on the simplest of features.
Photo credit: Siemens

Where would a top 10 of mobile classics be without an appearance from the BlackBerry, the device that launched a thousand thumb injuries? The first BlackBerry device was launched in 2000 under the snappy name of the RIM 957 Wireless Handheld. This device, the 7290, is the one credited with kick-starting the BlackBerry craze.
Since then, the BlackBerry has spawned a thousand imitations from the likes of Nokia and Motorola, but the form factor has yet to be bested for mobile email addicts. Blackberry maker RIM is now working out how best to exploit the next wave of mobile data services, such as salesforce automation on the go - which would suggest there's more evolution to come from the scrollwheel-bearing device.
Photo credit: RIM

Say 'mobile email' and in the UK most people will think of RIM. In the US, it's a different story thanks to the hiptop. The device, manufactured by Danger, debuted in 2002 under the Sidekick brand name and was aimed at a high-spending, high-fashion youth market who were keen on IM and email from their phones.
The Sidekick, sold exclusively by T-Mobile in the UK and US, comes with a slideout screen revealing a full Qwerty keyboard. While the phone hasn't really taken off in the UK, it's a popular choice Stateside, where it's best known for being hacked and spilling Paris Hilton's socialite secrets.
Photo credit: Danger

And then came the biggest of the bunch in 2007, the iPhone. Released on June 27, 2007, the original iPhone ran on iOS 1.0, came with 4 GB, or 8 GB storage and had a battery life of 8 hours talk time. It featured a mult-touch scree, WiFi and cellular Internet access and a 2 MP camera.
Photo: Apple

In 2008, the HTC Dream aka the T-Mobile G1 was the first Android phone.

1 comment:

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