Arguably, the mobile phone today is as seminal in society as, say, currency and transportation, with over 45 million Britons owning one or more handhelds.
However, not so long ago it was a very different picture in the UK. During the late 70s and early 80s only the most prosperous yuppies and salesmen yielded mobile phones, or ‘brick’ and ‘old school’ phones as we now refer to them, and were a symbol of status and success.
Fast forward 30 or so years and this aging stereotype has been completely obliterated. Nippers as young as six now own a mobile, and if you don’t have a smart phone (notably an iPhone or BlackBerry) then you’re more uncool and out-of-touch than Peter Stringfellow at a barn dance.
That said, the retro phone still lives on, in fact you could say it maintains a certain cult status. Films such as Wall Street and Beverly Hills Cop have etched the highly impractical, cumbersome brick phone into the history cool books, and anyone with the awareness and upper body strength to match want to get their hands on one. Move aside Smartphone, the retro phone is calling. Here are some of the best (and biggest) still hanging around…
With Motorola stealing all the mobile phone limelight throughout the 80s, the Mobira Cityman was Nokia’s secret weapon. Well, hardly an indiscrete secret weapon but one nevertheless.
Motorola DynaTAC 8000X
The DynaTAC 8000X carved the way for Motorola’s world dominance and in1983 became the first commercial handheld cellular phone. It was also popular with US government officials, but not in the above salmon pink and black version.
NEC 9 A
Another threat to the Motorola monopoly was NEC’s 9 A, and although it lacked the slickness and coolness that were standard with its competitor, it became the fastest selling mobile phone during the late 80s.
In 1989 the MicroTAC was born and quickly raised the design bar within an uninspired industry. Weighing in at just 12.3 ounces it was the lightest on the market; however cost a hefty £1500!
The Motorola 4500x and 4800x Transportables
Although they were classified as ‘transportable’ models, it took a body builder on steroids to operate them. Deemed as the true workhorse of the early mobile phone age, and primarily targeted the ruthlessly rich, it was a big seller during the mid 80s.
Motorola International 3300
The International 3300 breezed onto the market in1994 (there were only 3300 ever made too) and was the phone of the 90s. However, due to its limited production and primitive texting capabilities, it arrived with a large price tag and can reach as much as £1000 today.
Regardless of whether you intend to emulate Gordon Dekko or not, the retro phone has a unique charm and charisma that no swish Smart Phone can replicate. Long live the brick phone!