Ghosts of Cell Phones Past

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  • The majority of cellphones from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s were just that: phones. They did not send email and text messages; they did not log onto the Internet; and they did not include GPS.  Instead, users considered themselves lucky if they were able to play Snake. For graduates (and perhaps those graduating), you might remember having phones like this. For those just starting out as Freshmen, some of this might seem unbelievable.

    Primitive Features

    The cellphones of yesteryear were a far cry from those of today. Overall, many of them had the similar lacking features. For example, cellphones of previous decades were much heavier and bulkier than modern day phones. Old cellphones could rarely hold a battery charge; often, talk time was limited to under an hour.

    The first cellphone was invented before the Internet existed; thus, Internet access was impossible.  However, newer phones didn’t start adapting wireless internet ability until about a decade ago. While some of the phones in the 90’s and early 2000’s had graphics, they were greatly limited. The first camera phone sold in 2000, but the quality was nothing like phones deliver today. While modern cellphones are able to take pictures that rival cameras, older cellphones took pictures that were grainy at best.

    The phones from the past decades may pale in comparison to today’s devices, but they were groundbreaking for their time. The following is a look back at some of the ground-breaking models that found their calling in cellular technology:

    The Motorola DynaTac 8000x

    Often credited with being the first cellphone in existence, this unit debuted during Ronald Reagan’s beginning years as President: in 1983. Some of its features included a battery that lasted 8 hours when idle and 30 minutes when used; an LED display for dialing; and recall for up to 30 contacts. The cost to the consumer, like the phone itself, was extremely large: you could have owned it for $3,995 dollars.

    The Motorola MicroTAC

    The late 80s saw cellphones change from big and bulky to small and sleek. Not only was the MicroTAC the first phone with the "flip" design, but it was also – at 5.9 ounces – the lightest one on the market. Other features of this phone included a security code, a currency calculator, hands-free operation, keypad tones, name storage, note storage, and two phone number operations. Like its predecessor, this phone also came with a hefty price: it retailed for between $2,495 and $3,495.

    The Synergy

    The Synergy was first seen in 1997. Considered quite advanced for that era, this phone seemed to set the table for modern day smartphones: it included wireless access to email, the internet, and faxes.

    The Third Generation of Phones

    Now largely referred to has 3G, the third generation of cellphones was truly the mobile broadband generation. Launched in Korea in 2002 (by SK Telecom), the 3G networks decreased connection establishment time, introduced QoS flags (technology that allows computer networks to be as reliable as telephone networks for voice communications), and introduced the ability for more than one cellphone or mobile device to share the time slots.

    While older model phones may seem like a thing of the past, they set the stage for the modern smart phones that are in circulation today.

    This article was provided by Mike Gordon, recent graduate and tech geek. For those in-tune with modern-day mobile technology, Mike suggests checking out, where you can find gadget accessories like Kensington iPad keyboard cases.

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