The Mobile Phone: A History in Pictures

Take a stroll down memory lane and see the evolution of the mobile phone, from its humble beginnings with the Motorola DynaTAC in 1983 to the Apple iPhone 3GS in 2009!

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The First Mobile Phone: Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1983)

Motorola's DynaTAC 8000X wasn't commercially available until 1983, but its beginnings can be tracked back to 1973 when the company showed off a prototype of what would become the world's first mobile phone. The DynaTAC weighed almost a kilogram, provided one hour of battery life and stored 30 phone numbers in its phonebook. The Motorola DynaTAC is best known for bring used in the 1987 movie Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas as corporate raider Gordon Gecko.

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First Car Phone: Nokia Mobira Senator (1982)

In the early 1980's, the mobile phone was best known for its in-car use. Nokia's Mobira Senator, released in 1982, was the first of its kind. A car phone that weighed almost 10 kilograms, the Nokia Mobira Senator resembled a large radio rather than a conventional mobile phone.

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Soviet Fame: Nokia Mobira Cityman 900 (1987)

In 1987, Nokia launched the Mobira Cityman 900 — the first handheld mobile phone for NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephony) networks. The Mobira Cityman 900 became an iconic device when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was photographed using a Cityman to make a call from Helsinki to Moscow. The Mobira Cityman 900 weighed 800 grams and had a whopping price tag of $6,635 (in today's currency). And in Moscow it would have been worth 202482 Russian rubles!

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First GSM Phone: Nokia 101 (1992)

Nokia's 101 was the world's first commercially available GSM mobile phone. Paving the way for future "candy-bar" designs, the 101 had a monochrome display, an extendable antenna and a phonebook that could store 99 phone numbers. It did however lack Nokia's famous "Nokia tune" ringtone — this wasn't introduced until the next model in 1994.

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Touch Screen: IBM Simon Personal Communicator (1993)

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was one of the first attempts at a commercially viable smartphone. A joint venture between IBM and Bellsouth, the Simon was only sold into the US and was best known for having no physical keys. It used a touch screen and optional stylus to perform the majority of its functions, which included dialling phone numbers, sending faxes and writing memos. It was priced at $899 when it launched.

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First Flip Phone: Motorola StarTAC (1996)

Motorola were once well known for game changing designs in the mobile world and the StarTAC was one of the first examples. The world's first flip phone, the StarTAC was one of the first fashion phones, combining a lightweight and compact frame with its basic phone features. Despite launching over a decade ago, the StarTAC is smaller and lighter than many current mobile phones and smartphones.

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First Smartphone: Nokia 9000 Communicator (1996)

Nokia's 9000 Communicator may have weighed a hefty 397g, had just 8MB of memory and a monochrome display, but this beast was the first smartphone. A far cry from today's units, the 9000 Communicator looked like a regular mobile phone from the front, until it flipped open to reveal a second screen and a QWERTY keyboard.

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Snap On, Snap Off: Nokia 5110 (1998)

In the late 1990s, Nokia's candybar-style mobile phones were all the rage. Undoubtedly the most popular of these was the 5110, one of the first phones to introduce snap-on, coloured covers. The 5110 was well known for its excellent build quality and good battery life and was one of the first phones to feature the wildly popular Snake game.

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Happy Snap: Sharp J-SH04 (2000)

Although it was never released in Australia, Sharp's J-SH04 was the world's first camera phone and was launched in Japan in 2000. Available on the J-Phone network in Japan, this long device featured an integrated 110,000-pixel CMOS image sensor and a 256-color display.

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An E-mail Delight: RIM BlackBerry 5810 (2002)

RIM's first BlackBerry mobile phone was the 5810 — previously RIM had produced data based organizers that handled email and organizer features, but lacked phone capabilities. The 5810 simply added a mobile phone to RIM's existing feature set, though it lacked a speaker and a microphone and therefore needed the use of a headset to operate.

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PDA and Phone Combined: Palm Treo 600 (2003)

Well known for the Palm Pilot range of PDAs, Palm's Treo 180 (launched in 2001) made plenty of waves in the US, but never managed to make it to Australia. The Treo 600 did though, and was released in 2003 on the Telstra network. Widely acclaimed due to its combination of PDA features with a mobile phone, the Treo 600 featured a full QWERTY keyboard, a color display, a five-way navigational pad and ran the Palm OS 5 operating system.

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Gaming Mobile: Nokia N-Gage (2003)

Nokia's attempt at a foray into the gaming world originally caused a positive stir, but the N-Gage quickly turned sour once it was released. Originally targeted as a competitor to the popular Nintendo Game Boy, the N-Gage was blasted for poor controls, a strange design shape that resembled a taco and games than ran on standard multimedia (MMC) cards. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the N-Gage was its use as a mobile phone — you had to hold the phone on its side as the microphone and speaker were positioned on the edge of the phone.

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O2 XDA IIs (2004)

O2, like Palm, were well known for its PDA devices. The XDA IIs, released in 2004, featured a slide out QWERTY keyboard, and was a fully featured PDA combined with a mobile phone. Initially retailing at $1,390, the XDA IIs was pricey, but for its time had a good range of organizer functions and wireless connectivity options.

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Razer-Thin: Motorola RAZR V3 (2004)

Lauded as a "stunning piece of industrial design" upon its released, Motorola's RAZR V3 was one of the most iconic mobile phones to ever be released. Clearly gaining inspiration from Motorola's StarTAC eight years earlier, the RAZR boasted a stylish anodized aluminum cover, a VGA camera, quad-band compatibility and Bluetooth support. The RAZR was so popular it spawned a number of successors including the RAZR V3x, RAZR V3i and the RAZR V3xx.

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iTunes Phone: Motorola ROKR E1 (2005)

A partnership between Apple and Motorola, the ROKR E1 was one of the most hotly anticipated phones of 2005, due to its integration with iTunes. However, it was a flop: much of the disappointment stemmed from the fact that many consumers were expecting a true 'iPod phone' (and that was only to come with Apple's own iPhone). The ROKR E1's attempted fusion of mobile and music player was limited by a slow USB 1.1 connection, a 100-song cap and a sub-standard VGA camera.

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Motorola MOTOFONE F3 (2007)

Retailing at just $60, Motorola's MOTOFONE F3 was one of the cheapest mobile phone's released in Australia. Although it didn't scale any great heights, the MOTOFONE F3 was an interesting concept — it featured an EPD (Electronic Paper Display). This display possessed a paper-like high contrast appearance, consumed less power, and was thin and light. The display didn't have a backlight, as the technology was enabled by electronic ink that carries a charge.

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Just Touch It: Apple iPhone (2007)

Originally launching in the US in 2007, Apple's now iconic first iPhone never made it to Australia — at least officially. The original iPhone was a 2G device that had a similar frame and dimensions to newer models, but lacked basic features such as MMS messaging and video recording. In 2008, almost a year after the original hit the market in the US, the iPhone 3G was released in Australian and other markets around the world, while the current iPhone 3GS arrived this year. The iPhone enjoys immense popularity due to its user friendly touch screen interface and the wide range of apps available for download on the App Store.

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Optical Zoom: Samsung G800 (2008)

The first mobile phone released in Australia to feature a five-megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom, the Samsung G800 was supposed to represent a huge step forward for the camera phone market. Unfortunately, it never took off — it's the only camera phone with optical zoom that's been released in Australia. Although the G800 was chunky, its zoom performance was excellent for a mobile phone and combined with a Xenon flash it took reasonable low-light photos.

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Google Mobile: HTC Dream (2009)

It had been a long time coming, but the first Google Android-powered phone hit the Australian market in early 2009. Initially launching in the US as the T-Mobile G1, the HTC Dream was a re-branded device specifically for the Australian market. Launching on the Optus network, the Dream had a full-slide out QWERTY keyboard, a touch-screen interface, a trackball and a touch-based operating system that focused on user personalization.

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The Resurrection: Palm Pre (2010?)

First announced in January 2009, Palm's Pre was launched in the US in June, but still hasn't made its way to Australia. Considered by many as the closest challenger to the iPhone, Palm's much-anticipated webOS operating system has drawn many plaudits, but it remains to be seen whether this is the game breaking handset Palm needs to claw its way back into the mobile phone world.