A Brief History of the Cellphone

Cellphones may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but its concept has been around since the 1940s. Click to take a look back at the most famous incarnations of the cellphone.

18 photos
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Saved By the Bell/Still
Oh, that Zach Morris and his cellphone!
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Getty Images
It has been ten years since the Apple iPhone bought a slew of innovation on the mobile technology front. Cellphones, however, were not always as cool as these latest Apple incarnations. Click for a look back at how cellphones have evolved through the years.
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AP
Rudy Krolopp, former Motorola Design chief, holds the very first commercially available mobile phone, left, the DynaTAC 8000X. Krolopp designed the white beast of a device.
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AP
In this staged photo from General Electric, a stranded motorist calls a service station from an in-car cellular phone. At that time, in-car phones like this one from GE cost about $2,500 to install.
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SSPL via Getty Images
This model was perhaps the first truly transportable unit that could attach into a car and be portable. It was aimed at the busy professional market and at people whose work involved traveling. Its principal selling point was that the unit could easily be removed from the car and work independently from its own battery pack. Oh - and it weighed 11 pounds!
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SSPL via Getty Images
"Motorola", a word suggesting sound in motion, had become the biggest worldwide supplier of cellular telephones by the end of the 1980s. The MicroTAC, shown here, was one of the first cellphones to reach widespread public use. It was followed in 1996 by the 3.1 ounce, pocket-sized StarTAC - the world's smallest phone at the time.
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AP
Motorola director of systems engineering, Ray Leopold, stands with a mock-up of an Iridium Satellite, with a cellular phone in-hand, June 26, 1990. The Iridium satellites allowed for worldwide telephone communication through a network of 77 satellites.
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FILE - AP
No that's not a walkie talkie: Former president Bill Clinton talks on a cellular phone while meeting with Boston Mayor Ray Flynn in a New York hotel Thursday, Sept. 25, 1992.
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AP
This model doubled as a fax machine or an office computer. The IBM Simon, priced at $899, was a hand-held portable office.
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AFP/Getty Images
The Nokia 3310 was a wildly popular phone that debuted in 2000. It came to be revered for its durability and battery life. A later model, the 6610, is shown here. It debuted with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). The Nokia 6610 GPRS mobile phone sent text messages with digital images and had a stereo FM radio.
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AP
The sleek design made this phone the hot tech item of the year. Within a year, after lowering the price, it sold over 50 million units by July 2006. Within a four year period, the V3 model sold more than 130 million units, becoming the best-selling clamshell phone in the world to date.
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Getty Images
The mid-to-late aughts gave way to a slew of so-called "feature" phones, or phones only capable of voice calling and text messaging (as opposed to "smartphones" that have many other capabilities). These are some of the cheapest cellphones available now, given the ubiquity of smartphones.
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Getty Images
The first generation iPhone debuted in 2007, to much praise. With a touch-sensitive screen, app capabilities, sensors, internal GPS, and much more, the iPhone is credited with reshaping the smartphone game.
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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The BlackBerry Bold enjoyed widespread popularity when it debuted in 2008. Barack Obama famously kept his when he became President of the United States and even Kim Kardashian had a hard time giving hers up when it died in 2016. But don't count on buying BlackBerry phones in the future - the company has since ended mobile production to focus on software.
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AP
The Samsung Galaxy Mega, left, Samsung Galaxy S4, center, and Apple iPhone 5. With a screen measuring 6.3 inches diagonally, the Galaxy Mega is almost as big as a 7-inch tablet computer. The difference: It makes phone calls.
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Getty Images
Built much thinner than previous generations, the Apple iPhone 6, left, and the iPhone 6 plus, right, could bend easily but featured a sleeker design than the metal edges of the iPhone 5.
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Stephen Lam/Getty Images
The first iteration of iPhone to omit a standard headphone jack, the iPhone 7 is also Apple's first smartphone built to withstand water (for up to 30 minutes).
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AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Apple CEO Tim Cook, announces the iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Cupertino, California.
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