These devices may look clunky now, but back in the day, they were the be all and end all.
See this silly-looking brick? More than 40 years ago, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper made a call on a phone that was mobile and had no connection to a landline.
It would take years before the technology of a cell phone would catch on in the mainstream (and be affordable), but that one call on that one brick-like phone would -- eventually -- change the way we communicate forever.
It was the iPad before there was an iPad: a slate-like device with an LCD display and a way to input data. Granted, the keyboard was an actual physical keyboard, and the gadget was more of a concept than a production model. But look at today's Windows 8 OS. Alan Kay's invention, clearly, still lives on.
Yes, the Apple Newton was an epic fail, one of the company's rare missteps. However let's not remember it for how much money it cost Apple. Instead, let us remember it as a rare tech shooting star that shone brightly for as short -- very short -- time and as one of the very first tablet devices to use a handwriting feature. Granted it didn't work super well, but hey, props for being first, right?
The AT&T Picturephone debuted at the 1964 New York World Fair, and was Skype's great-grandparent. The fact that you could call someone via video? In the 60s, it was incredible.
The PalmPilot, while seriously uncool now, was one of the first ever digital personal assistants. To be able to sync everything you need on one device via a computer? While par for the course today, it definitely wasn't in the 90s, when the PalmPilot debuted. Sadly, the poor PalmPilot never really caught on and became more symbolic of obnoxious yuppies than the revolutionary tech it was.
Long before the iPhone, Windows was making phones that had touch screens. Yep, Microsoft did it first, and an example of that was the HTC Wizard.
The IBM Simon was one of the first ever smartphones. First. Ever. Sure, it was huge, and it wasn't super pretty, but had a touchscreen, tools and something close to apps. IBM, high applause.
The '09 Motorola Droid put Android on the map. The first to be powered by Google, the keyboard was one of the best ever, and it had a smooth, excellent OS. Sure, it looked kinda janky. But if you had it, for once, you didn't have iPhone envy.
One can almost think of it as an iTouch or an iPad, but without the touchscreen. As an electronic personal assistant, the phone was not exactly elegant, but its many features and capabilities were a hint of what was to come today; now, our phones do everything under the sun.
The iPhone was truly a game-changer in the smartphone industry. It may be obsolete now, but its swiping feature, the fast browsing experience, the intuitive interface -- all smartphones, as we know them today owe their design to this 2007 mobile device. It didn't hurt that the design was also sexy as hell -- or maybe the right word is "is." After all, many other phone makers are still, clearly, taking inspiration from this original gangsta.
One word: Battery life. Ok, that was two words, but you get the gist.
It was a PDA. It was a tiny laptop. It was something of both, and also had touch screen capability. Sadly, you needed a card to make it functional for wireless, but still, it was clearly a predecessor to tech today, such as the Ultrabook.
Remember the games? Snake, Memory, Logic? Remember the fact you could easily slip it in your pocket? Remember it had four whole colors? It was the creme de la creme, right before the true mobile phone mainstream takeover began...
Terrible name, trail-blazing device. It had a built-in stylus and a graffiti area, and you could absolutely surf the web, check email, and use Palm apps. Like many early handhelds, it wasn't super pretty, but it was small and powerful, and for 2001, cutting-edge.
You had one. Your friend had one. Your friend's cute older brother had one. No it wasn't the most cutting edge in mobile technology, but for sheer fad power alone, the Nokia 3210 was one of the first to create a smartphone craze...way before the iPhone.
The ultimate in its day for PDA and mobile awesomeness, the Blackberry 7320's capabilities made it an instant favorite among workaholics. Basically it made remote work from your phone possible-something that, today, is pretty much a given.
You've probably never heard of this phone, but the Handspring Treo was revolutionary when it came out. It was light, it had fantastic navigation, and, with its flip screen, it was just comfortable to use.
It raised the bar for portable, fast phones in 2010. With great wifi speeds and extremely clear photos, it was a keypad phone that could decently hold up against touchscreen phones, and that says a lot.
It wasn't pretty, but this Windows device streamed TV (and this was before apps like Netflix and Hulu).
The Blackberry Curve was awesome. I had one of these babies. I haven't had a better pre-touchscreen keyboard experience yet, and yes, I'm including the little trackball. It was incredibly responsive and super easy to use. The device in general was tiny and light, making it one of the earlier smartphones to emphasize easy portability with a sleek design.
No one does images better than the Samsung Galaxy, and it all started with the S3, with its innovation in image taking and file sharing. Heralding the trend of "bigger screen is better," this device allowed Samsung to finally overtake Apple in smartphone sales. If your current smartphone has a nice, big screen, this device is one of the reasons why.
What really blew everyone's mind with the HTC Evo? The two-way video chat feature, as well as the 720p video recording. In 2010, that was fresh. True, the battery sucked, but the Evo was the first superphone that really hit it off with the public.
It was hip, it was slick, and had an unusual (for then) swivel-hinge feature. Plus, it pretty much started a cultural meme. Its easy sync with AOL messenger made it something of a forefather to syncing popular message apps to phones today.
Before you dismiss it as a flash in the pan, consider: The Palm Pre had a gesture-based interaction that put it miles ahead of other mobile tech at the time. It also would sync contacts for you, long before syncing was common thing.
There was a time when a Windows-powered phone didn't make everyone go ughhhhhh, and that time included the heyday of the Samsung BlackJack. Featuring a Windows OS, it actually had Java support for games that required it.