You think phones are getting huge now? Before smartphones reigned, dumbphones made people look—in retrospect—insanely dumb. It wasn't their fault, but let's look back in time and laugh at them.
Early in the life of the mobile phone, virtually everyone who owned one looked like this guy: a white dude walking next to an airplane. This particular white man in a suit is seen borrowing his friend's car phone—they used to all be tethered to cars—surely discussing some stock or impending visit to an embassy. If you wanted to stray from your car, tough luck.
Photo by AP/AT&T
But before we had real cellular phones, we had primitive versions—like this handset that dialed into the telephone network with a giant hip box. She pulls it off, though.
Stacey/Fox Photos/Getty Images
TV sleaze legend Jerry Springer looks dumb here in 1998 because of the big phone, and also because of the dumb way he's holding that french fry.
Photo by AP/Stephan Moitessier
Polish labor leader Andrez Lepper conducted negotiations via cell phone—among the first political figures to make power moves over mobile.
This German stock trader dressed up as a clown for a carnival celebration on the exchange floor in 1999. The phone compliments him perfectly.
Franck Piccard of France talks on his mobile phone after the Mens Super G Slalom event at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Piccard won the gold medal with a time of 1:39.66 minutes.
Allsport UK /Allsport/Getty Images
A tribal leader from Papau New Guinea shows off his laptop and cell phone in 2000, demonstrating just how hard it is to avoid the spread of the phone.
An artist in New York takes a break from his exhibition to yell at someone over his cell phone, circa 2000. By this point there are over 100,000,000 cell phones in the US.
Phones are usually the first thing we grab after some good news. Like say, after completing a marathon, like this gent in '94.
Clive Brunskill/Allsport/Getty Images
You're allowed to look dumb on a huge old phone if you're trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East.
Renato Ruggiero, Director General of the World Trade Organization uses two cell phones prior to the Telecoms Talks at Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, Feb.15, 1997. The negotiations had to wrap up my midnight that night. Twice the urgency requires twice the phone.
Cell phones quickly entered the mainstream—no longer were they the tools of politicians and Olympians. Even this virgin at a rock concert could have one.
Photo by jfhatesmustard
Rudy Krolopp, lead designer of the first cell phone, poses with Motorola's first cellular phone the DynaTAC8000X and their new RAZR cell phone Tuesday, April 5, 2005, in Schaumburg, Ill. Dubbed "the brick,' the DynaTAC weighed in at 2 pounds, sold for $3,995 and would give you about a half-hour of talk time before recharging. And now, we look back at the RAZR and laugh.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Rico Shen and AP/Donald Stampfli
Image Curation by Attila Nagy