31 Years Of Mobile Phones

About the author
Michael Justin Allen Sexton & Yannick Guerrini, Matthieu Lamelot

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.

Read more
Create a new thread in the US Photo reports comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
22 comments
    Your comment
  • BadActor
    They have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. My first mobile phone was a Motorola bag phone with a large antennae. People would be amazed when you told them you were calling them from your car.
    1
  • plasmastorm
    My 1st phone was an alcatel of some sort when I was about 14-15.
    1st phone you would recognize was the 7110 I got after that, loved that phone and would pay good money for the same shell with modern features.
    1
  • g-unit1111
    My dad has had seriously nearly every single one of those dating back to the giant brick sized Motorola portable phone he got in like 1992 all the way to a Galaxy S6 which he has now.
    1
  • chaosmassive
    I used to gaming on Nokia 3310
    you know, perfect score on space impact !
    and snake at maximum speed !
    0
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    You missed the first colour phone: the Siemens S10, launched in 1998.

    You included the first phone with a 1080p screen, but not the first phone with a 4k screen: the Sony Z5 Premium in 2015.

    I got my first cellphone in 1997/1998. I think it was an Alcatel brick. I later inherited my Dad's Siemens S10. :-)
    0
  • 10tacle
    My first "mobile" phone was a Motorola car version of the hand-held brick back in the late 1980s that my parents got me when I went off to college. Mobile service was spotty back then of course, even in relatively populated areas. And when I was roaming out of my service area, it was very expensive per minute....something insane like nearly a dollar a minute which in today's dollars is closer to two bucks a minute.

    Needless to say, we didn't yap much back then as even the contract plan cost per minute was something like $.25/minute on top of the monthly fee. In any event, it's always fun to reflect on all the old phones some of us older people have had over the decades. Even my retired four year old Android Motorola Razr Maxx smart phone can play older PC games, games that 10 years ago needed a pretty powerful build to run them on a 1600x1200 CRT monitor!
    1
  • Pat Flynn
    Awesome article guys, love seeing stuff like this! Historical mobile computing at its finest :)
    0
  • g-unit1111
    Anonymous said:
    My first "mobile" phone was a Motorola car version of the hand-held brick back in the late 1980s that my parents got me when I went off to college. Mobile service was spotty back then of course, even in relatively populated areas. And when I was roaming out of my service area, it was very expensive per minute....something insane like nearly a dollar a minute which in today's dollars is closer to two bucks a minute.

    Needless to say, we didn't yap much back then as even the contract plan cost per minute was something like $.19/minute on top of the monthly fee. In any event, it's always fun to reflect on all the old phones some of us older people have had over the decades. Even my retired four year old Android Motorola Razr Maxx smart phone can play older PC games, games that 10 years ago needed a pretty powerful build to run them on a 1600x1200 CRT monitor!


    My dad's car had one of these:



    We thought it was state of the art back then. :lol:
    2
  • 10tacle
    Anonymous said:
    My dad's car had one of these:
    We thought it was state of the art back then. :lol:


    LOL! That's exactly the Motorola design I had and mine was mounted in the center console like this, but it was after-market and not factory. Looks like Lexus got a contract with Motorola for a factory phone option. Awesome! If I remember correctly, the keys lit up in green.

    Early adopter memories, heheheh.
    0
  • g-unit1111
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    My dad's car had one of these:
    We thought it was state of the art back then. :lol:


    LOL! That's exactly the Motorola design I had and mine was mounted in the center console like this, but it was after-market and not factory. Looks like Lexus got a contract with Motorola for a factory phone option. Awesome! If I remember correctly, the keys lit up in green.

    Early adopter memories, heheheh.


    It wasn't that exact one - that was just the first image I pulled on Google. My dad's was a Volvo and yeah the keys did light up green from what I remember. :lol:
    0
  • RedJaron
    I loved my StarTAC. While small, it was almost indestructible. Mine took a few tumbles down some concrete stairs and suffered nothing more than a few scuffs on the exterior case.

    But no Palm Treos? That's a pretty big hole.
    0
  • alidan
    i forget till when, but the older phones were far better for reception, people use to get them because you could be out in the middle of the desert and still get a signal while a newer phone would have nothing... now after they killed those ones from connecting, you need a sat phone to guarantee connection.
    0
  • f-14
    all of the executives at my dads company had these, plus the car version, plus every job foreman as they could order 20-200 yards of concrete for every cell or power line tower they were building in the 80's and 90's.
    1-12-35 holes a day, you don't **** around time is thousands of dollars a minute on those jobs.
    0
  • f-14
    oh how come one of the most important phones in the world isn't mentioned? the nextels that had PTT push to talk walkie talkie feature like a c/b network
    my motorola nextel was the life blood of work itself...i was sad when i accidentally left it on my trucks rear bumper alone with my main key ring and forgot about them and drove down a county road in winter with about 2 feet of snow still being plowed off the roads that day 2001-2003'ish NCAA basket ball tournament snow storm week end.
    0
  • IInuyasha74
    Anonymous said:
    oh how come one of the most important phones in the world isn't mentioned? the nextels that had PTT push to talk walkie talkie feature like a c/b network
    my motorola nextel was the life blood of work itself...i was sad when i accidentally left it on my trucks rear bumper alone with my main key ring and forgot about them and drove down a county road in winter with about 2 feet of snow still being plowed off the roads that day 2001-2003'ish NCAA basket ball tournament snow storm week end.


    Well that sounds like a cool phone and a useful feature, but it isn't really a link in the evolutionary chain of mobile phones. The idea behind the article was to show prominent advances in technology leading into smartphones, and this would be a useful feature, but it wasn't really carried over into modern phones.
    0
  • jimmysmitty
    Nice article. I do think you forgot one important part though, the Motorola Droid. It was probably the phone and Verizons push that helped to popularize the Android platform. I remember the marketing for it. That was what I would consider Motorolas last big hurrah since after the Galaxy SII and LG G series Motorola has become sort of a mid line phone.

    My first phone was the indestructible Nokia 5110 with Snake.
    0
  • vertexx
    Nice series - not quite complete without the Palm Treo series.....
    0
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Another missed OS is Windows Mobile. It ran on quite a few devices, here's a partial list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Windows_Mobile_devices It also ran on some industrial PDAs and handheld barcode scanners.

    I used to develop software for them and it was an absolute pleasure to develop for and being able to reuse a decent amount of desktop .NET code on mobile devices was a great time saver.
    0
  • Stanislaw
    You missed Siemens SL45i from 2001. First phone whit Java platform and MMC card slot. This combination allowed to install 3rd party apps. So I had ebook reader whit access to online library, e-mail app, lots of games and even crude video player (no audio very limited video quality do to screen parameters). The moment I connected from my phone whit Project Gutenberg website and download my first book (back in 2001 over GSM network it took some time) I was impressed I know the future was here.
    0
  • Stanislaw
    Quote:
    You missed the first colour phone: the Siemens S10, launched in 1998.

    You included the first phone with a 1080p screen, but not the first phone with a 4k screen: the Sony Z5 Premium in 2015.

    I got my first cellphone in 1997/1998. I think it was an Alcatel brick. I later inherited my Dad's Siemens S10. :-)

    "I got my first cellphone in 1997/1998. I think it was an Alcatel brick." You mean Alcatel One Touch Club? I had one of those. Good for self-defense, also it was grate to be able to simple put in 3 AA battery when you phone died.
    0