Can you hear me now?
June 22, 2006 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Retrobrick sells those old giant clunky cell phones we still called "car phones." To anyone old enough to remember them, it's a little scary to think they are desirable antiques now. Too bad they aren't as sweet as these photoshop fantasies. For a little history, Martin Cooper's account of making the first cell phone call, 33 years ago, on the streets of NYC (to his rival at Bell Labs.)
posted by CunningLinguist (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The first cell phone, the Motorola's DynaTAC 8000X didn't hit the market until 1984. The price tag? $3,995.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:50 AM on June 22, 2006

posted by Mr. Six at 5:53 AM on June 22, 2006

"Hey Joe! Guess where I'm calling from? The streets of New Yo*CLICK*chhhhhhhhhhhh*"

posted by splatta at 6:05 AM on June 22, 2006

I love the zack morris phones.
posted by splatta at 6:12 AM on June 22, 2006

I was a bit disappointed in the account of the first cell call. If it'd have been me, I'd ahve been laughing, jumping up and down, and telling my rival to go fuck himself.

No, I'm not mature, but yes, I do know what makes one feel good.
posted by Swandive at 6:15 AM on June 22, 2006

We also affectionately call them zach morris phones.
posted by naxosaxur at 6:20 AM on June 22, 2006

Oh, thank goodness. I was afraid that the DynaTAC brickphone or even the StarTAC I threw away a few years ago might have actually been worth real money. (No, I never had an account with one of those monsters, it was a swapmeet find. The "miniature" StarTAC was active for quite some time, though.)

I remember using the ill-named "MicroTAC" too. That was just at the end of mobile phones designed as military-industrial hardware and right before they got all cheap and chrome and Nokia'ed. I don't miss the short battery life and the inability to stick them in any known pants pocket outside of a pair of cargo BDUs, but I do miss being able to easily shoulder the suckers and hear them even while standing in jet wash.

Also, this thread goes perfectly with the junkie hipster thread below.
posted by loquacious at 6:25 AM on June 22, 2006

It's interesting to note that the old nokia 8850 looks so similar to the brand new 8801.
posted by splatta at 6:42 AM on June 22, 2006

I remember communicating with my office on huge heavy walky talkies in the late 80s because we couldn't afford phones.

I think it would be sort of funny to walk down the street using one one of those old monsters. Then again, everyone would be too busy chatting into their own phones to notice.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:25 AM on June 22, 2006

Screw transistors. I want a cell phone with the warm sound of tubes.
posted by pracowity at 7:26 AM on June 22, 2006

Hulger. Use an old handset with a new cellphone.
posted by adamrice at 7:28 AM on June 22, 2006

Y'know, I thought it was kind of cute when some random nerd wired a real old AT&T handset into a cell. It had a little novelty. But it wasn't really meant to be serious. Then I heard they were actually mass producing the things and selling them at one of those craptastic fad humpathons like Urban Outfitters or some crap. I twinged a little, fearful that it was a sign. And it probably was.

That Hulger site
makes me want to kill. It makes me pray fervently for the coming of the insatiable Old Ones - may they gorge upon their pasty drug-addled flesh.

Seriously, what else is there that argues so strongly for our own fucking extinction in an endless rain of gigaton-scale asteroids? Answer: Using a giant stupid overpriced retro plastic cordless phone. To talk to your fucking overpriced cordless phone.

I fully expect there to be high fashion, going-nowhere-fast athletic shoes for your shoes any day now. People will buy incredibly expensive and exquisitely engineered tiny cars in which they would park the wheels of their incredibly expensive full sized cars, and drive off merrily - each of their four wheels with fours wheels of their own - each of the 20-odd wheels large and small with platinum bluetooth digital LED animated ringtoned spinners no less.

Is coke making a huge comeback or something?

posted by loquacious at 8:17 AM on June 22, 2006

My first thought on seeing these was definitely ZACK MORRIS.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2006

(The "miniature" StarTAC was active for quite some time, though.)

I know someone who's still using one (CDMA, I think). You can still get batteries and chargers for them retail. If all you want to do is make and receive phone calls and voice mail there's no reason to give it up; it works well, the battery life is reasonable and it isn't any larger than many new phones. I think it makes a positive statement -- insofar as any consumer product does -- about antifashion and pragmatism.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2006

MetaFilter: of those craptastic fad humpathons
posted by antifreez_ at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2006

One artist's take on massive retro cellphones. Some other whimsy as well.
posted by bz at 12:41 PM on June 22, 2006

Wow!! I had no idea these would ever sell for this much, but I guess that's how collectibles go... I had 3 motorola 8500x phones, but I only kept one, with the car charger. I had a few bag phones and a StarTAC, too. I got rid of them when I figured no one would want them because you couldn't get service.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:08 PM on June 23, 2006

For a little history, Martin Cooper's account of making the first cell phone call...

"I'm on the bus. I said I'M ON THE BUS."
posted by pracowity at 3:15 PM on June 23, 2006

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