The History of Cell Phones

The History of Cell Phones

Amia Nettles, Staff Writer

Cell phones. It feels like they’ve been here forever considering the improvements in them over the years, but actually, they’ve only really been a “thing” for about forty years. So let’s take a look back on the advancement of one of the world’s biggest inventions, cell phones.


1973: Motorola DynaTAC 800x

The Motorola DynaTAC 800x was the very first mobile phone to exist. It debuted on April 3, 1973. Martin Cooper, a Motorola employee introduced the two-and-a- half pound clunky “shoe” phone. It allowed a user to talk for 35 minutes and required 10 hours to recharge. It didn’t officially hit the market until a decade later, making it available to customers for a whooping $3,995.



1989: Motorola MicroTAC

On April 25 1989, Motorola released a very efficient, new cellphone. The Motorola MicroTAC, was the first “pocket phone” and also the first flip phone design. Compared to the Motorola DynaTAC 800x, it was “micro” measuring at about 9 inches and weighing around 12.3 ounces. The phone price was still extremely high costing between $2,995 and $3,495.


1994: IBM Simon

Many people think that the iPhone was the first smartphone; however, they are wrong. The first “smartphone” was the IBM Simon. The one-pound phone was released on August 16, 1994, and it took the world by storm because it was the first phone to run apps, and it also featured the first touch screen. The price was also lower than previous phones, costing $899.




1999: Nokia 3210

This was one of the most successful and popular phones in history. The Nokia 3210 was released on March 18, 1999. This phone was far lighter than cell phones before.  The 151-gram phone was very popular with the younger generation due to its addition of three games: Snake, Memory, and Rotation. It was also very popular during its time because it debuted the SMS texting service and allowed picture messaging.



2000: J-SH04

Pictures. They capture a moment to make it last a lifetime, and the J-SH04  was the first to make it happen, on a phone. Sharp Corporation released the 74-gram phone in November 2000–making it the first phone ever with a built-in camera. Although it was only available in Japan, a similar model of the $500 phone, called the Sanyo scp-3500, was released in America, two years later.


2004: Motorola RAZR

This phone was known as “the fashion phone.”  The 127 gram phone was very popular, selling over 50 million units in its first two years. The cost was around $600, and even though the technology wasn’t too extraordinary in comparison to the models of recent years, the new look of the cell phone impressed many.


2007: Apple iPhone


Of course, the iPhone. The revolutionary touchscreen was released to the world on June 29, 2007 by the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. The price was between $499-$599, and it took the world by storm with its internet access, fast streaming, and thousands of apps to purchase and choose from. The iPhone has continued to prosper in the phone industry for over a decade, becoming the most popular phone out there. Since 2007, Apple has released model after model, until the most recent iPhone X–each offering new updates, better cameras, more features, and better speed and storage.

Modern phones go far beyond the calling and texting features of early models.  Filming and editing videos, producing music, communicating globally, and managing personal tasks through calendars, to-do-lists, and more are all in the palm of users’ hands.

As you can see, phones and their technologies have changed tremendously over the years, and it’s likely more changes and advancements are to come.