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Here’s a box of 15 cellphones dating back to 1994

ConnectHub founder John Royer showed us his box of phones. Get ready for a walk down memory lane.

John Royer's box of phones. (Photo by Tony Abraham)

There’s a plastic box in ConnectHub founder John Royer’s closet.
Unlike the plastic box that might exist in your closet, Royer’s box contains every cellphone he’s ever owned dating back to 1994 (though Royer did say there was a time when he owned one of those bag phones of yore).
Obviously, once we caught wind of this little treasure trove of tech history, we very bullishly insisted on proof of its existence. Well, Royer did not disappoint. He (very courteously) turned his office at 1313 Innovation into a please-touch cellphone museum — if only for an afternoon.
Without further ado, we are beyond pleased to present to you the contents of that container in photographs.

1. The first cell phone. How about that vintage leather case?


2. How far do you think the antennae on this one had to extend before getting a decent bit of reception? 


3. This one has a bit of a sleeker design.


4. You could tether your beeper to this cell so that your messages would run across the screen of your phone — but you couldn’t reply. No text functionality just yet. (Just think of all those games of Snake, though.)


5. This isn’t a phone as much as a pocket PC, but we absolutely had to include it.


6. Ahh, the early 2000s. If you could find it in the settings, you could have played a few rounds of Snake on this one.


7. Enter the Age of the Flip Phone.


8. But Royer wasn’t quite feeling it yet.


9. Talk about an upgrade. Royer called this flip functionality his “secret keyboard.”


10. The Palm Pilot Treo, one of the initial smartphones on the market.


11. So. Many. Buttons.


12. Everyone remembers the Motorola Razr. Like many of us, Royer’s happened to be hot pink. He claims he didn’t have it long before passing it along.


13. It was only a matter of time until a BlackBerry entered the fray. It wasn’t all that long ago that BlackBerry users had to use a toothpick to operate this phone.


14. An early iPhone in all its glory.


15. Finally, hot on its trail, Royer’s first Droid.

So, there it is, folks — a quick trip down memory lane. A few items of note:

  • After a brief flirtation with bite-sized devices, modern-day cellphones are basically the same size as they were back in the early ’90s. Obligatory Zoolander shoutout.
  • The slide-out keyboard capability was an embarrassing and cumbersome fad.
  • The flip phone, stylish and suave as it may have been, was arguably a necessary stray from functionality.
  • It’s only a matter of time until we laugh at the design of cellphones released in 2015.
Companies: 1313 Innovation

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