Five phones we'll never forget
12th Sep 2008 | 11:12
Take a trip down memory lane, with this quintet
Stop caressing your iPhone for a second and pay respect to its ancestors. From the Gordon Gecko-wielded DynaTAC to Neo's Nokia, these are the five models we lusted after during the eighties and nineties.
Motorola DynaTAC 8000X
Back in the day, when carphones were actually sold in warehouses, any self-respecting yuppie would've given his right brace to wrap his hand(s) around one of these monsters. The first generation of mobiles, as sported by Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street, had immense cash-flashing kudos - the 8000x cost $3,995 new in 1983 - but laughably low battery life. Little did we realise then that, like sushi, hair gel and financial chaos, mobile phones would soon be part of the everyday life for us all.
Now it may seem like the size of a small pastie, but when the StarTAC first arrived, it spelled miniature-mobile joy for any gadget-glad geek and cellphone poseur. This super-cool clamshell landed to our wonderment in 1996, and initially cost over a grand in its original analogue guise. At 88g it was easily the world's lightest and smallest phone, and in its GSM version was a huge hit. And it introduced VibraCall - a vibrating alert - for the first time. The StarTAC was a real trend-setter and laid down a path for nifty Motorola clamshell designs that eventually led to the iconic RAZR.
The jaw-dropping slickness of that spring-loaded slider phone we saw in The Matrix materialised in our paws with the 1999 release of the Nokia 7110 (though a modified earlier 8110 was actually the one used in the movie). Curvy, large screened, and with a ground-breaking navigation scroll wheel, it looked the part - and it was the first WAP phone, too, introducing us to the... ahem... joys of the nascent mobile internet.
As we attempted to 'Surf the Net, surf the BT Cellnet' on unwieldy sites at glacially slow speeds, our friends marvelled at our Neo-like tech-savvyness, and then found something more interesting to do.
Long before Walkman and Cyber-shot phones were even a glint in its LCD, Ericsson wowed us with its super-slim, shockingly light, and immensely stylish T28. Debuting in 1999, the T28 had a flick-switch flip mechanism for Star Trek communicator-style mouthpiece activation. But it was its thinness - just 15mm - and 83g lightness and smooth, cutting edge design that really made us lust after this baby. We dug that racey blue-green backlit display and flat metal back panel, too. So it had a stubby antenna sticking out of the top - so what; who cared about pocket poking aerials when you had this much style?
Hands up those who said it'd never catch on? Nokia's first camera-packing phone, released in mid-2002, was certainly a bulky handful at 154g, but its snap-happy gadgetry - with a genuine VGA camera actually inside - overrode any pocket-sagging reservations we may have harboured. What's more, the 7650 was Nokia's first Symbian Series 60 smartphone, and had a sliding keypad design and large colour display combo that we'd soon see plenty more of in more mainstream mobiles. You could snap'n'send to your heart's content - provided you could afford to send endless messages to friends who couldn't view them on their handsets.