These images (plus video) show the evolution of cells phones from 1997 to 2010

If you were old enough (or even born — I wasn’t) back when cell phones (or mobile phones, as some of you non-Yanks like to call them) came into being, I’m sure you remember something a lot bigger, heavier, and less reliable than today’s modern phone — smartphone or otherwise. Thanks to an exhibit put together by Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo, we can all view the evolution of cell phones since 1987.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, NTT Docomo put together an exhibit chronologically displaying cell phones from 1987 all the way to 2012. The exhibit itself was featured in Tokyo’s Designer week, but, for all of us that couldn’t make it there, we have a video of the event followed by images to show you. Check it out:

For reference, iPhone came out in 2007.

[via BGR, images and video via Designboom]

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4 comments

  1. DrTszap

    You kids have had it easy, back in the day we had “boat anchor” MTS (Mobile Telephone Service – calls made through a Mobile Operator and Simplex-only (Push To Talk like a CB Radio)) carphones like the 1950’s Western Electric 238:

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/WE238.jpg

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/Type38A01.jpg

    and then in the 1970’s-1980’s ‘miniaturized’ (in comparision to the boat anchors…) IMTS (Improved Mobile Telephone Service – the Mobile Operator was replaced with direct-dialing and Duplex (you could talk and listen at the same time)) “portable” Mobile Phones like these attache phones:

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/GCS.jpg (GCS Mark 1000)

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/Liverm1.jpg (Livermore Data, Lap -2000)

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/Telcom.jpg (Tel-Com 150A)

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/canyon1.jpg (Canyon MK900)

    or this one that was *literally* a carphone stuffed in an attache case:
    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/ExecA.jpg

    or if you were Canadian:

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/Trigild.jpg (Trigild Gemini)

    And if we were really lucky we got a MTS handheld:

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/MT-155.jpg
    (Ca. 1979-1982? Tama Denki Co Ltd, Tamaphone MT-155 – basically a 5-Watt walkie-talkie with a dialpad, apparently there was also a similar 2-Watt MT-152)

    or if not quite so lucky this pseudo-IMTS (direct-dialing using a lot of arcane comands, but not duplex) handheld that required a lot of RTFM to learn to operate:

    http://i1164.photobucket.com/albums/q570/Dr_Tszap/Yaesu.jpg (Ca. 1982 Yaesu Traveller)

    or British Telecom’s 1979 handheld:

    http://youtu.be/vix6TMnj9vY

    all of which became obsolete with the advent of AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service – e.g. analog cellular) around 1983… OK, most of these were before my time >;-> MY first mobile was a Micro-TAC in 1995 or so (“though I *did* acquire, and still own, a used, non-working but repairable, Tamaphone around 1988 after the previous owner fried the non-user-replaceable internal battery)

  2. jayesstee

    My first was a Panasonic in 1997. It was small enough to go in a shirt (vest?) pocket and it made and received ‘phone calls. That’s it, it made and received voice calls. What else did I need?
    All my subsequent ‘phones have been purchased for the same purpose, until recently when I invested in a Nokia C1-01 with Bluetooth(TM) so that it could talk to my new car (auto). Seems it has a camera, a voice recorder, an FM radio receiver and a gallery (for images, video clips) as well. All this for one sixth of the cost of my 1997 model!
    What will the next 15 years bring?
    Bodily implanted ‘phones? (You really will be able to call them “cell ‘phones” then.)
    17.1 stereo?
    3D projected images/holograms?

  3. Ed

    My first cell phone in 1996 was an AT&T bag phone, the phone was so big it had to be carried in a zip up case. The case also served as an antenna base for the phone. Unzip the bag , flip up the antenna, place your call! BTW the andset actually reached your mouth too.Not long after that Motorola cam out with the first version of the ‘flip phone” so I switched, this was more easily transportable and concealable ,you didn’t need to carry it around like a purse, it was still big but at least you could fit it into a coat pocket.It just seemed from then on cell phone just kept getting smaller. So for those that were too young or were not born yet, ask you parents and / or grandparents about the “bricks” they had to haul around in the dawn of the cellphone age.