Spark Blog Notes from the Spark Team
Epic Moments in Mobile Device History
The Spark team, recently discussing mobile nostalgia, got a little misty-eyed recalling some of our favorite phones of all time (including a few that weren’t all that mobile).
A few of our favorites:
Francisco (Cisco) Cheng
A decade ago, I said to myself that I would never own anything besides a flip phone, as I was smitten with the original Motorola StarTAC. My mind was blown when I bought the RAZR, another flip that’s a third of the StarTAC’s size. It’s the phone that my mom is still using today (yeah, she’s way behind the times).
I also remember saying I’d never own an iPhone, because I couldn’t fathom typing on anything other than a physical keyboard. Then I gave in. The iPhone changed everything, introducing me to the world of apps, touchscreens, and yes — virtual keyboards. In fact, I’ve taken down quite a few people who challenged me to a speed typing test. I dare you to do the same.
Today, I’m still a smartphone user, although my latest venture is the Windows Phone 7 operating system (on an HTC Titan II). And man, I’m not looking back.
My first was a Motorola “bag phone” sold by Ameritech in Chicago circa 1986. To call it “mobile” was a bit of a misnomer. A thick, coiled cord connected the handset to a bag that was heavy enough to make the shoulder strap useful. It was really a free-standing car phone that could be carried into the house as needed.
Despite the clunkiness, it was a game changer for my family. That winter, while driving downstate to show our newborn baby girl off to the grandparents, we had a breakdown on the interstate in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. The bag phone, clunky as it was, did its job. And we sure were glad to have it on board.
My first cell phone was a Nokia 2190. I remember thinking, “Wow, this Japanese-made phone is so compact I can stick it in my pocket!” Actually, it created a bulge in my pocket that made me look like a shoplifter. Committed to looking like a respectable citizen, I purchased a smaller phone, the Sanyo SCP 4000, which was small enough to stick it in my front or back pocket (though the latter caused some discomfort while sitting).
Next up was a Sanyo SCP 6400, a small and really thin phone, released a few years before thin phones became popular. Then I joined the Motorola RAZR nation. I actually got the V3, and by RAZR fever was cooling off. Next was the LG Venus slider. It had some cool features and served as my transition to smartphones.
Which leads me to my present-day smartphone, the HTC Droid Incredible. It’s everything I need — for now.
The Motorola RAZR raised the bar for cell phone eye candy. When it was unveiled in 2004 for Cingular Wireless (formally AT&T), I was blown away by the extraordinary thin and sexy design. Actually I still am — it’s iconic!
I finally got the chance to own one when it was sold by Verizon Wireless in 2006. That’s when I had the epiphany that this wasn’t a cellphone, PDA, or whatever other term used to describe it. It was a computer, plain and simple. You could tinker with it in the same way.
The most elegant tech device I have ever owned was the Palm Vx PDA. It boasted a gorgeous, sleek silver body and cutting-edge black-and-gray graphics. It could connect to, well, almost nothing. (All you could do was plug it into your PC using a giant docking station). It cost a whopping $500. But it was a beautiful machine for its time. Its simple, handy interface kept my life so well organized that I used the Vx for eight years — long after it was obsolete.
What was your favorite mobile device of all time?