Watch the Evolution of Cellphones in 7 Retro Commercials

Image: A stranded motorist calls a service station from an in-car cellular phone, 1983, in a staged photo from General Electric.
A stranded motorist calls a service station from an in-car cellular phone, 1983, in a staged photo from General Electric.General Electric via AP file

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Few devices have been as disruptive to modern culture as the cellphone. Forget just talking to people from anywhere, with no wires involved. Today, these amazing devices enable all sorts of good and bad behavior, including Facebook rants, Twitter fights, selfies and Instagram photos of delicious delicacies and drunken text messages to those better deleted from our contacts list. It’s nearly impossible — and, frankly, terrifying — to imagine a world without smartphones. Thanks to YouTube, we can take a look back at how mobile phones evolved, through our most sacred medium: commercials.

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Motorola DynaTAC (1984)

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In 1984, this brick became the first commercially available cellphone in the U.S. market, which explains why we’re getting the World’s Fair style explanation about what a cellphone is: “This revolution in communications could make it possible for more and more people to have a phone in their car, or even one that travels with you.”

If this level of sorcery seems too good to be true, you’ll go nuts when you hear the portable weighs just 30 ounces. (Yes, that’s nearly 2 pounds.) For perspective: Phones today average around 5 to 6 ounces. This was the ’80s, though — until then it was a simpler, pre-”Ghostbusters” time in America. We didn’t know what amazing technologies lied ahead.

MORE: 12 Most Infuriating Tech Behaviors

RadioShack Cell Phone (1990)

Enter the ’90s — a time when “finding a phone in a car isn’t that unusual anymore,” this RadioShack Cell Phone commercial states. Good thing they had all those people talking on the phone while driving.

RadioShack’s bold claim seems to be that, in 1990, it was common for the phone to leave the car, allowing talkers to be rude and antisocial on the golf course, on a boat or at a restaurant. Really, you can take it anywhere that you can bring the clunky suitcase attached to the phone, because the thing isn’t even wireless.

You’ll have to remember, however, that this was when RadioShack was known more for its sense of humor rather than overpriced cables and accessories. The commercial ends with a young boy, dressed like a “Revenge of the Nerds” extra, getting a phone call to the surprise of his dad. The kid throws out a few business terms, talks about buying shares, and the audience dies of hysterics. Bonus points for that laptop he’s rocking.

Motorola Flip Phone and U.S. Cellular (1996)

We dare you to try and forget flip phones. For their era, these mobile gadgets looked cool. Cellphones became a more reasonable thing for anyone to have. Not only that, but it was only $20 to buy this puppy.