by Al Sacco

A Brief History of the Mobile Phone (1973-2007)

Aug 21, 20074 mins
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This morning I stumbled upon a very cool article on called “In Pictures: A History of Cell Phones.”

I really enjoyed the piece and wanted to share a brief synopsis with all of you. What follows are few of the most notable events in the evolution of the cell phone, according to the article.


  • Motorola touts a prototype of the world’s first mobile cellular phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. It’s more than a foot long, weighs nearly 2 pounds and sells for $4,000. However, it wasn’t commercially available until a decade later.


  • Finnish handset maker Nokia introduces its first mobile phone, the Nokia Mobira Senator. The device looks very much like a portable radio and it weighs a whopping 21 pounds. Yikes.
a cell phone


  • BellSouth/IBM unveil the world’s first mobile phone with PDA features, including phone and pager functionality, calculator and calendar applications, as well as fax and e-mail capability. The BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator weighs 21 ounces and sells for $900.


  • Motorola debuts its StarTAC mobile phone, merging fashion and functionality into the cell phone. It weighs 3.1 ounces–light by even today’s standards–and it is a clam shell device.


  • Kyocera introduces its QCP6035 mobile phone, the very first widely available Palm OS-based phone. It costs between $400 and $500 but only included 8MB of memory.


  • Before Palm acquired Handspring, the company released its Handspring Treo 180 cellular phone, which came in two versions. The Treo 180 was available with a QWERTY keyboard as well as in a separate version with text input method called Graffiti.


  • The Danger Hiptop, which later became known as the T-Mobile Sidekick, hits the mobile space. It is one of the first mobile devices to include a quality Web browser, reliable e-mail access and instant messaging, as well a unique swiveling form factor. ( later went on to name the device its 2003 product of the year.)

  • The BlackBerry 5810 hits the market in 2002, and though it’s not the first BlackBerry, it’s the first such device from Research In Motion (RIM) to include voice functionality–though a headset is required because it doesn’t have an external microphone or speaker.

  • Sanyo and Sprint make the Sprint SCP-5300 PCS available, and both companies claim it’s the first mobile phone in the United States to include a digital camera. Image quality is, however, less than impressive.


  • Motorola announces its RAZR v3 cell phone and starts a trend toward ultra-thin, stylish phones that’s still influencing mobile device manufacturers today. The RAZR v3 is a “cool” device that everyone, from high schoolers to businessmen, wants. It’s still one of the most popular mobile phones, and its one of the few handsets offered by the majority of major cellular carriers.


  • RIM, known for its high-end business phones and reliable “push” e-mail technology, makes its first foray into the consumer space with the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. The device is the first from RIM to include a digital camera and media player and it’s also the smallest, thinnest BlackBerry–currently, the company’s 8800 series of devices are the thinnest it offers. (Read’s review for more on the BlackBerry Pearl.)


  • Apple releases the iPhone, a beautifully designed device that includes an innovative–and much hyped up–touch screen navigation interface, which doesn’t require the use of a stylus. The device is available exclusively through AT&T in the United States, and it comes in a 4GB version for $499 and an 8GB version for $599.

What’s missing?  Is there another notable event in the history of mobile phones that’s not on the list? If so, please let me know.  (There are a few more events mentioned in the PCWorld piece.  To read about them, as well as see images of the above mentioned devices, check out “In Pictures: A History of Cell Phones.”)

Related Links

Why Your BlackBerry Causes Speakers to Buzz

The Business-Savvy Smartphone Review