Smartphones were once a boutique item, but now they're essential. Still, we all remember a time before smartphones — at least, the time before we got our first one. How old were you when you got your first, and what year was it?

While younger generations likely received their first smartphone as part of a family plan, I remember the time when the iPhone was still a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye. The year before the iPhone came out, I was working as an intern for Gawker and was desperate for a device where I could check my email on the go — a struggle at the time with the available technology.

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I was still on a family plan, and a smartphone of my own wasn't yet an option. I purchased a used HP iPAQ Pocket PC from Ebay, because it had both a dedicated keyboard and the ability to join a Wifi connection — the essentials. Not long after I was sent on a secret mission by editor Alex Balk uptown. I'll never forget my first triumphant email sent from the street, huddled close to a building with open wifi. It felt a little bit like magic.

That smart device wasn't hooked into a cellular network, however. Never the biggest fan of Apple's hype machine, I resisted the iPhone for years. My first real smartphone was the original Motorola Droid, circa 2009. It had a slide-to-reveal keyboard with a satisfying click and a master button for scrolling. I loved that thing so hard, I can still feel it like a phantom limb in my hands. Sometimes I turn my iPhone sideways, just to relive the dream.

Gizmodo's recollections of their first smartphones provoked a wide range of response. Our Editor-in-Chief Annalee Newitz, holder of ancient technological mysteries, had a Palm Treo, whose Blazer browser she recalls being anything but fast (but whose keypad was amazing). Contributing editor Andrew Liszewksi sent over a picture of his sweet first-timer from 2004, the pre-Android Sony Ericsson SeP900, which has a cool retro feel now but must have felt like a Star Trek communicator at the time (check out that stylin' stylus).

Meanwhile, associate editor Eric Limer shared his deepest secret shame:

my first was an lg optimus via republic wireless in fucking 2012

hows THAT

Tell us your own smartphone's make and model in the comments, and, if you're feeling overshare-y — how old you were when you got it. You never forget your first (smartphone).

Images: Picksell/Shutterstock / Wikimedia