Mobile

14 People Using Hilariously Giant Old Phones

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 aeroplane. 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: AP/AT&T



But before we had real mobile phones, we had primitive versions — like this handset that dialled into the telephone network with a giant hip box. She pulls it off though.
Photo: Stacey/Fox Photos/Getty Images



Jerry Springer looks silly here in 1998 because of the big phone, and also because of the siily way he’s holding that french fry.
Photo: AP/Stephan Moitessier



Polish Labor Party leader Andrez Lepper conducted negotiations via mobile phone — among the first political figures to make power moves over mobile.
Photo: AP/Alik Keplicz



This German stock trader dressed up as a clown for a carnival celebration on the exchange floor in 1999. The phone compliments him perfectly.
Phone: AP/Bernd Kammerer



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.
Photo: Allsport UK /Allsport/Getty Images



A tribal leader from Papua New Guinea shows off his laptop and mobile phone in 2000, demonstrating just how hard it is to avoid the spread of the phone.
Photo: AP/Jan Bauer



An artist in New York takes a break from his exhibition to yell at someone over his mobile phone, circa 2000. By this point there are over 100 million mobile phones in the US.
Photo: AP/Suzanne Plunkett



Phones are usually the first thing we grab after some good news. Like, say, after completing a marathon, like this gent did in ’94.
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Allsport/Getty Images



A “smart” internet-ready handset from Nokia in 1996. Looks like Apple owes Samsung an apology.
Photo: AP/Fabian Bimmer



You’re allowed to look dumb on a huge old phone if you’re trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East.
Photo: AP/Avi Ochayoun



Renato Ruggiero, Director General of the World Trade Organization uses two mobile phones prior to the Telecoms Talks at Geneva, Switzerland, on February 15, 1997. The negotiations had to wrap up my midnight that night. Twice the urgency requires twice the phone.
Photo: AP/Avi Ochayoun



Mobile phones quickly entered the mainstream — no longer were they the tools of politicians and Olympians. Even this person at a rock concert could have one.
Photo: jfhatesmustard



Rudy Krolopp, lead designer of the first mobile phone, poses with Motorola’s first mobile phone DynaTAC8000X and its new RAZR mobile phone on April 5, 2005, in Schaumburg, Illinois. Dubbed “the brick”, the DynaTAC weighed in at just under a one kilogram, sold for $US3995 and would give you about a half-hour of talk time before it had to be recharged. And now we look back at the RAZR and laugh.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Rico Shen and AP/Donald Stampfli