– I remember it like it was, well, 18 years ago. I had borrowed my mother's cell phone for a day for some reason, and being able to call anyone from anywhere gave me a sense of autonomy that not even getting my driver's license had. So I walked into RadioShack, we still had those back then, and talked to the only carrier that would sell a phone to an 18 year old with no credit. Sprint, $129 later, what I walked out with was Mr Mobile's first mobile phone. (light music) Straight from the Ebay box, the first thing that comes back to me about the Samsung SCH-3500, is how futuristic it felt when it was launched in 1999. Sure, the display was a monochrome LCD with pixels you could count with the naked eye, but the phone around it, that was unique. It made clever use of space by including a hole in the flip, so you didn't always need to open it to use it. Motorola had done this before with the I-1000 but this, this was almost as petite as the Star Trek communicator I devoutly wished it was.
Sadly, there was no speaker phone on this model, but the Samsung software did let you customize the welcome banner, so I was able to sneak a little star fleet into this thing. And it packed a futuristic feature for the time, voice dialing for up to 20 phone numbers. Great for making calls while driving, which was probably outlawed in my state right after I bought this. Cool thing about dusting off phones this old is that it conjures up memories of old networks too. See the word Dual on the front of the flip here? That means the phone ran on Sprint's digital CDMA network, oh hey Qualcomm what's up? But, if it couldn't find that digital signal, it could also roam on analog networks. That's part of the reason for this extendable antenna here, and I remember using analog precisely once.
A minute of staticky mestering which I heard fragments of a stranger's conversation, that's a phenomenon called cross talk. But couldn't hear the person I called at all. What order? Who is taking Genesis? Yeah, that call cost me a $1.29, and I never used analog roaming again. Now staying digital meant I got to use wireless data. Yeah, even in 2001, five bucks a month got me unlimited news, weather, text, and instant messaging delivered at a, hold on to your hat, 100 kilobits per second.
And I used it too, I remember being on a sail boat race around Long Island and using AOL instant messenger to talk to my best friend by tapping out words on the keypad. And this was before any predictive text. Why not just call him? Well, back in these days, phone calls were more expensive than pizza deliveries to the international space station, that really happened in 2001 by the way. My $40 plan gave me only 350 week day minutes per month, which worked out to about 16 minutes a day. I had to wait until after sunset or after Friday to use my much larger pool of night and weekend minutes. And at this time, carriers would fight for customers by offering not just more minutes, but how early those night and early weekend minutes would start. If it sounds absurd, yeah, it really was. And the phone calls on this thing weren't even that great, Samsung had a reputation for poor reception on its phones until 2004 or so.
And the earpiece on this model was also rather quiet. Thankfully the ringer was anything but. (cell phone ringing) Speaking of that earpiece, who woulda thought that this old phone would give me a lesson in chemistry? You've probably noticed how gross this flip is, and no, that's not something we blame on the previous owner. Some googling lead me to a site called Polymer Solutions, which explains that this is an example of something called rubber reversion. Basically, before Samsung molded this earpiece into an comfortable soft touch material, it started out life as a liquid petroleum product and it's gotten so old that it's now behaving more like a latex, slowly reverting back to its liquid state. Like Odo after too long away from his Bucket. So the next time someone scoffs at your new phone having broken too easily, they say they don't make them like they used too. You can remind them that none of this stuff was ever really built to last. Let's close out on that subject, lasting, this phone featured a removable battery.
But, as a college student I was always too poor to buy another one, and because the pack was only rated for about two and a half hours of talk time, I remember spending several long calls with the phone still charging on its cradle. Could I be any more 2001? So, at the end of the day I'll always carry fond memories of my first cell phone. But I sure am glad I don't still have to use it today. (light music) but you may have noticed a bunch of other YouTuber's posting their first phones today too. I'll drop links to their channels and the description, and thank them for including me in this fun day of looking back.
You can join the fun, share with me your first phone experience in the comments below and please subscribe to the Mr Mobile on YouTube while you're there. Until next time, thanks for watching and stay mobile my friends..
Marques: Before cell phones, it was a very different world. Couldn't really walk around. You were kinda stuck to wherever the phone was. Absolutely no privacy, and anyone could pick up the phone and listen to your conversation. Woman: Growing up, I always really wanted a cell phone, but my parents wouldn't let me have one. Getting my first cell phone was freaking mind-blowing. One of my earlier cell phones was, like, a flip phone. There is something really satisfying about cracking it open. – ( snapping ) – The cell phone gives you this sense of independence. I thought I was the coolest. I thought I was a super tech girl. Oh, my God. My first cell phone was the ultimate freedom. Marques: I'm Marques Brownlee, and I review dope new tech. But on this show, I'm rewinding the clock to discover the tech of the past that changed our lives forever. This is "Retro Tech: DynaTAC." Hey, what's up, guys? MKBHD here.
As you already know, I'm pretty into tech, and specifically a lot of smartphones. My first ever cell phone was this little blue Samsung flip phone, probably back in, like, 2005. And even that was 20 years after the first ever cell phone the DynaTAC 8000x was released. So this is not the original box it came in, but inside this box is the OG DynaTAC. Let's get into this. That's a lot of leather, and you actually get a little leather smell. I hope that means it's real leather. This is the DynaTAC in here. Good old Velcro. Whoa. That is crazy. And this is your antenna-looking thing. It has a digital screen. The buttons are pretty soft. It really does have some heft to it. It'd be kinda funny to see how many phones today would equal the thickness of the DynaTAC.
One, two, three. Five, seven, ten of today's smart phones thick. But that's how far we've come. If that isn't Moore's Law for you, I don't know what is. This battery comes off. "May explode if disposed in fire." Slide that back on. So these phones operated on the very first wireless network ever created, which we'll now refer back to as 1G. 1G networks are not still operational. They haven't been in, like, 20 years, but I'm kinda thinking of things that I think people would say on 1980s phone calls. Hey, you gonna be at jazzercise today, Bill? My fax should have gone through by now. Hopefully you got that. – Hey, are you home yet? – Yeah, I just got here.
Can you set up the VCR to record "Golden Girls" on the VHS today? – For sure. – I'm probably gonna miss it. Bill, relax. I sent the fax. You'll get it soon, okay? It's hard to imagine a time now without a cell phone in every pocket. So I need to know, how did the DynaTAC create an entirely new world of portable communication where it didn't exist before? First of all, welcome. Thanks for joining me. – Thank you, my friend. – I want to start by asking you to check underneath your chair. I can do that, I guess.
Oh! That's cra– yo, I'm done. I'm done. Look how big this antenna is. This is huge. Man, this phone is mad heavy. Like, if you ever got into a problem, you could throw it at somebody and actually win a fight. Like, this thing is just baller. It's so cool! Marques: So I want to take it back before the days of any cellular phones. What was that world like? ( phones ringing ) Lisa: Before there were cell phones, you could make a phone call from home before you left your house. But if there was an emergency or if your car broke down, – you had to use a pay phone. – This is an emergency. Give me the local fire department paramedics. Until the car phone came out. – ( phone ringing ) – Brad: Motorola was this tech company, and what Motorola was developing were these car phones. The car phone was the first mobile phone, and they were only mobile in the sense that you could fit them into your trunk. Announcer: More and more people have a phone in their car, like this unique cellular portable made by Motorola. Michael: They were massive, massive pieces of equipment that drew a lot of power. Announcer: And they are a hot item. A year from now, every metropolitan area of the nation will have cellular phone service. Brad: So, the challenge with the tech was how to fit all of the crap in the trunk of the car, the antenna on the top of the car, into an actual portable handheld cell phone.
There was a team within Motorola led by Dr. Martin Cooper. Dr. Cooper emerged as the leading proponent of, "Hey, people are gonna want to buy portable cellular telephones. We need to build them. And we need to build them in a massively short amount of time." Because they knew that there was gonna be competition. And I think one of the engineers said, "Oh, that sounds great. I'll get around to that." And Dr. Cooper said, "You don't understand. We have to build this in six weeks." What's crazy is they were able to do it. Whoa. Marty Cooper and his team at Motorola were in a race against rival phone company Bell Laboratories to come up with the world's first cell phone. So, who better to tell that story than the legend himself? Martin Cooper: At the beginning, it was a great curiosity. I don't think anybody ever believed that everybody would have them– except we did.
What was the first phone call that you made after the successful creation of that first DynaTAC prototype? I must tell you that I hadn't planned on who I was gonna call. But walking down 6th Avenue in New York, and it occurred to me, "Why don't I call my counterpart?" His name was Dr. Joel Angel at Bell Laboratories. And I said, "Hi, Joel. This is Marty Cooper." And he says, "Hi, Marty." "Joel, I'm calling you from a cell phone. But a real cell phone. A handheld personal portable cell phone. What do you think of that?" Silence on the other end of the line. I could only imagine what he was thinking, and I suspect he was gritting his teeth. And that's when things took off. Did you ever imagine the technology advancing this far? Not a chance.
Today, there are more portable phones in the world than there are people. So we never could've imagined that. Amazing. I can remember the first phone I ever got, the first smartphone I ever got, the first time I ever pointed a camera at myself and talked about how much I loved my new phone. All that stuff comes from the DynaTAC, so I feel like I owe you a thank you, too. You're very, very welcome. Marques: The DynaTAC prototype was nothing like anyone had ever seen or sold before. The end result was 1.75 pounds, stood 13 inches high, stored 30 numbers, took 10 hours to charge for about 30 minutes of talk time, and cost a hefty $3,995. Adjusted for inflation, that's over $10,000 today. By today's standards, this might not seem impressive, but in the early '80s, the DynaTAC was a groundbreaking piece of technology, and the very first of its kind. And in March of 1984, the DynaTAC 8000X officially hit the market. And this is it.
This is a portable cellular phone. When people got hold of the first portable cellular telephone, they didn't want to put them down. They became addicted to that convenience. I think it's the greatest thing that I've ever had, and it's something that I wanted somebody to come up with for a long time. Brad: So, after the DynaTAC comes out, cell phones do blow up, but it's a limited blow-up because these phones were so expensive. The prevailing attitude at the time was how are you gonna get people to buy a $4,000 handset? This is gonna be a toy for the rich and nobody's gonna buy the thing. ( tires squeal ) Brad: But once pop culture started pushing this stuff out, people were buying these phones to show out. Very famously, of course, the film "Wall Street" featured the phone, and I remember thinking as a kid, "Wow, I really want one of those. It looks like it makes you cool." I don't care where or how you get it, just get it. And there was "Saved by the Bell." The Zack Morris phone.
I'm, I guess, a little young. I don't think I've ever seen "Saved By The Bell." – Who is Zack Morris? – What? And what is the Zack Morris phone? All right. "Saved By The Bell" was an iconic mid-'90s television show where Zack Morris essentially terrorizes everyone in the school. He would have this phone, making calls and doing deals, and essentially putting his friends in very precarious predicaments all the time. I'd like to order a large pizza and the hottest peppers you can find. When kids saw Zack Morris using a cell phone, we talked about that phone. Like, "Yo, we want that." Lisa: That was when we really started to see the DynaTAC 8000X entering the mainstream for the everyday person. Marques: Four decades after the DynaTAC 8000X was first released, mobile phones have become the most used electronic device in the world. But these last 40 years haven't been without some questionable designs along the way. So, we have with us some of the most interesting and unique designs from that time, and we also have fellow YouTuber and friend Austin Evans to help take a look at those.
Austin has reviewed tech for over a decade on YouTube, and he especially loves all things cellular. …to this. This is "Dope Or Nope." All right, let's take a look at the first one. This is called the Motorola StarTAC Rainbow. – Is this from the '90s, perhaps? – This is from 1998. Go ahead and flip this open. Oh, wow. It's actually original. – Yeah. – I think '90s are still cool. There was a matte black version that you didn't get. You got the rainbow version. – What? Wait. – That is sick. It looks like you made it out of Play-Doh. I like the look of this phone. – It's so '90s, it's so cool. – And you got plenty of– Oh, God, you're probably about to mount this to your belt.
I am– you read my mind. – Aw. – Pretty sure I count as a dad now, right? – That's the SIM card. – This is the SIM card? Oh, it even has the cut-out. Oh, wow. See, but it feels so che– ( gasps ) ( laughs ) Sorry, I'm getting a call. One moment. – Are you getting a call? – Just let me make sure I'm– – Yeah. – He's got it. No, the GameBoy's gonna be big, yeah. Yeah, we should buy. Marques: All right, so I think we should place our bets on the price, 'cause I don't know the price of this one. I think this is $400. Oh, I was gonna say $400. I agree. Okay. The price tag is on the bottom of the box. ( laughing ) Starting price, $1,000. This cost $1,000? For a thousand bucks to feel this cheap is simply unacceptable. Good-bye. Gosh. I hate talking to you. That's a nope. So, this next one is called the Siemens Xelibri 6, and all I know about it is that it was targeted for the female demographic. And that is it. It's like a compact, right? Uh, what is that? Like a– like a makeup thing.
This is that, but without the makeup. I think if we boot this up, we can see what the screens are about. ( music playing ) Oh, oh. Okay, I'm losing all my respect for this phone. So, we have what I assume is signal flashing here, and then your battery life is your heart. So, dude, I have one heart left. So many bad ideas in such a small space.
Pictures. Oh, let's look at pictures. Cake.bmp. What if these are all pre-loaded photos that you could send to people because they were already in your library as a reaction, kind of like the way we use emojis right now? – Hmm. – That's cool. But, like, what is– what is this? What is this? Like, who am I, really, right now? This is clearly designed by a bunch of dudes who are like, "Oh, you know what women are gonna love? This." There's a lengthy list of possible pros and cons, – mostly cons for this phone. – Mm-hmm.
This is definitely, I'm gonna say, missing the mark. So, the Xelibri 6, that's a nope. Austin: That's a nope for me. All right, so, this next one comes to us from Nokia. This one was dubbed the Lipstick Phone, and that is… – Oh, word. – …this here. This is totally from "Star Wars." You mean, like a lightsaber, kind of? Austin: Yeah, yeah! ( gasps ) A camera! – Is that a camera? – Yes! Whoa, it's got a click wheel. So, dude, this thing is actually really cool. The UI must be wild. Okay, I think we have to turn it on. Can you find a power button is the question? – What about this one? – There's, like, zero descriptors on this at all.
There's not, like, one word besides the word "Nokia" on it. Marques: Wait, what is happening right now? Okay, so, think 2000s. Think. Is there a button on the side? There's a couple buttons, but none of these are screaming – power button at me. – Wait, no. Austin: Hey! Marques: The red button turns it on. Oh, look at that. We've got a full color display. Wow. So you're just meant to use it in landscape. Marques: But I need to see what this camera looks like. I mean, I'm sure it's not going to be great. It's 2004, like, whatever. Set and… – Not bad, not bad. – Other phones have T9. You have a keyboard for a reason. You don't have a keyboard on this phone, so if you're texting, you're texting with that wheel. – Good luck. – Okay, just take a step back.
– Mm-hmm. – Okay, put yourself in 2004. Look at how cool this looks. I just don't think I can give this dope – because it's not– – Really? Maybe because I'm not a huge lipstick guy. I don't know what it is. Yeah, Nokia 7280 for me is a nope. Well, it gets a certified dope from me. Awesome, well, thank you for taking that journey with me, Austin.
– Of course, man. Any time. – I appreciate it. "Dope Or Nope," signing out. Marques: Since the DynaTAC's release in 1983, thousands of unique cell phone models have circulated the world. And in my personal pockets alone, I've owned and tested several hundred different models. But this cell phone boom wasn't immediate. It took years after the DynaTAC's release for the cost of cell phones to drop down far enough in order to be accessible for most people. So, in the mid-1980s, that's when a much cheaper device was introduced to the mainstream. Enter the pager. Announcer: Get the pager. It's affordable, it's portable, from Motorola. Boom. The pager dropped. Michael: And a pager was just a little box you wore on your belt, and it would buzz when people called a specific number, your pager number. So if a friend was at a payphone, they could call your pager number and then you would call that payphone back. You were immediately reachable. You didn't have to go home to get your messages from your answering machine.
Gerard: So, now that the pager dropped, it's like, yo, it ain't a cell phone, but it's still something that we can use to communicate with. A lot of people in the hood– like, hip-hop, music, entertainers, once it got into that world, everything started to explode and change. You can't be a hip-hop fan and not know the beginning of Biggie Smalls' "Warning," which is just the beep… ( beeping ) – And then… – ♪ Who the hell is this ♪ ♪ Paging me at 5:46 in the morning ♪ ♪ Crack of dawn and now I'm yawning ♪ When that happened, you had to have a pager.
Man, gotta spin the chain on that, baby. Lisa: Pagers were everywhere, and people developed their own language to communicate through pagers. Michael: You don't have to put a phone number in there, you can put in whatever numbers you want. So people started sending coded messages. Lisa: It kind of lead to this whole vernacular very similar to the way we have our own language when we text people today with emojis and bitmojis and things like that.
The pager gave birth to texting. Marques: So, in the '80s and '90s, pagers were a convenient option because phone booths were on every corner. But today, in New York City, there are only three phone booths left. So I'm here at one of them at the corner of 90th Street and West End Ave., where I'm waiting for a page from fellow YouTube creator Sara Dietschy. On her channel, Sara's always tackling new tech, so hopefully we can figure out the pager together. I'm leaving my phone number.
I guess now I have to wait for him to call me back. ( beeping ) That's jarring. Oh, I hold it down to see the number. – ( dial tone ) – Dial tone. – Hello? – Hey. This is the first page I have literally ever sent. This is the first page I've ever received, also. Voice: Please insert 25 cents for another three minutes. Sounds like a rip-off. Before this call disconnects, let's just meet at the studio and figure out this whole pager thing. ( click ) I hope she got that. All right, so, we're back at the studio. I'm just kind of curious in general, like, what do you know about pagers? I've seen it in one episode of "Friends" when Ross got a pager when his kid was being born.
So, for, like, emergencies, right? – "Call me." – Important messages. – Yeah. – Something like that. So, I've been told that there's a certain thing called pager codes. Back in the day, people would send each other strings of numbers as a messaging system, – kind of like an early text. – A text message, okay. Marques: In codes. What we're gonna try to do is decode what sort of message we just received. We have the answers here, and we have our little – whiteboards here. – Feel like I'm back at school. We'll try to see if we can figure out, against each other, if one of us can get it right. You're going down. I mean, I'm not confident at all, so I– Me neither, so I don't know why I said that. I'm just gonna go ahead and give it a shot. – Ooh. – ( beeping ) – That's so loud. – Okay.
– Can you not? – And awful. – Sara: 707. – Oh, that's easy. Done. Yes. I finished that first. Yeah. Yeah. – Dang it! – But I got it first. Hold on, so you're telling me people in the '80s were the ones who came up with LOL? Yeah, that predated texting, I guess. – Wow. – Next page. Next page, please. ( beeping ) – I just want that to stop. – Mm-hmm. – 187. – Interesting. – 187. – Seven. I feel like these codes, there's so much more thought that's put into it than, like, LOL. – You're distracting me from my answer. – I'm so sorry. – Ready? – Yep. I'm the late one. And I got that by– when I turned it upside down, I got L-8-1. Yeah, this is truly horrible. What did you get? "I am hungry." – Like, "ate," food. – Yeah. And then I would probably text this to people.
But then, like, who is hungry? I got the text from an unknown– an unknown source is hungry. I don't think either of us is right. No, I don't think so either. All right. "I hate you. You're dead." – That's so mean. – "You're–" What? What? Sara: "Police code for murder." Why would anyone know that? "Uh, we got a 187 over here on Northwest Broadway Street." That's what people are paging each other? – Yep. – I guess it give me an appreciation for how creative you had to get to send a message.
– ( beeping ) – This is the last one. – This is the last page. – Yep. – Okay, one, dash. – Dash. I love how we want to do it at the same time. One– 1-177155-400. – So that's probably three words. – Ooh! – Do you know what it is already? – I have no idea. This is something you would page someone. I'm pretty sure I'm wrong. I just wrote this down as a bail-out answer because…
I am so unconfident. – Ready? – Yep. I picked the police codes category. I picked the turning it upside down, and the only thing I saw was "ill." – So, "I'm sick." – Ill? Where's "ill"? Oh, 177? – Wait. – That's "L-L-I." – I am just confused. – Upside down and backwards. – I am utterly confused. – So, look, we're both probably wrong. – Reveal! – This is the final answer. – "I miss you." – What? I miss you. I miss you? Oh! Wow. It was spelling it out right-ways. It was spelling it out. It was right in front of our face. The 177 makes an "M." – Now it's so obvious… – Yes. now that you can see the "M." But thank goodness for technology, because this is insane. Marques: I think we both learned what it was like – to have a pager in the '80s. – Yeah. It's kind of funny. This might even be further ahead of its time than the DynaTAC was, just because if you have a quick message you want to say, like, "Hey, you're dead to me," you might just make a little text message out of it instead of calling them up and saying it. Thank you for taking the journey with me.
Thank you so much, Marques. – I'm glad we did this. – Sara: Same. Marques: Of course, nowadays you can send texts and make phone calls on one device, but the ways in which we use our cell phonesare still evolving to this day, 40 years later. What is the legacy of the DynaTAC? And then what is the legacy of pagers? Lisa: Mobile phones are the most used electronic device in the world. Without the DynaTAC, without this idea that you wanted to take your phone calls with you, who knew if there would be the idea that we wanted to take everything else with us, too? Gerard: The DynaTAC created a new level of relationships. Relationship happens through connection, so the better you can create something that allows us to connect better is groundbreaking.
Michael: Compared to the DynaTAC, I think pagers have a less visible history, but they pioneered this era of text first. Nobody talks on phones anymore. Everyone texts, and pagers were the first embryonic form of that. Brad: The age breakdowns work as well, where it's, like, younger kids are just texting, and then our old parents always want to call us for no good reason. Today, we look at this and say, "What a brick." But you can't have our current information age without the technological innovation that the DynaTAC started. It's a massively important piece of history. Not just communication history– history. Marques: So, wow, this was such a fun one to throw back to, because this one I feel like is the legacy that I'm most familiar with. Before mobile phones, before this communication that has spread so far, the amount of people you could have a conversation with or could connect with at all was much more limited. But now that almost everyone can have some sort of mobile phone, it sort of shrinks the world, and allows you and everyone to communicate with more people than ever before at any other point in history. So thank you for your dedication, Dr.
Marty Cooper. Thank you, Motorola. Thank you, DynaTAC 8000X. And thank you for watching. Peace..