RETRO TECH: DYNATAC


Marques:Before cell phones,
it was a very different world.
Couldn’t really walk around.
You were kinda stuck
to wherever the phone was. Absolutely no privacy,
and anyone could pick up
the phoneand listen
to your conversation.
Woman:
Growing up, I always really
wanted a cell phone,
but my parents wouldn’t
let me have one. Getting my first cell phone
was freaking mind-blowing. One of my earlier cell phones
was, like, a flip phone. There is something
really satisfying
about cracking it open. – ( snapping )
– The cell phone gives you
this sense of independence. I thought I was the coolest. I thought I was
a super tech girl. Oh, my God. My first cell phone
was the ultimate freedom. Marques:
I’m Marques Brownlee,
and I review dope new tech.
But on this show,
I’m rewinding the clock
to discover the tech
of the past
that changed
our lives forever.
This is
“Retro Tech: DynaTAC.”
Hey, what’s up, guys?
MKBHD here. As you already know,
I’m pretty into tech, and specifically
a lot of smartphones. My first ever cell phone was this little blue
Samsung flip phone, probably back
in, like, 2005. And even that
was 20 years after
the first ever cell phone the DynaTAC 8000x
was released. So this is not
the original box it came in, but inside this box
is the OG DynaTAC. Let’s get into this. That’s a lot of leather, and you actually get
a little leather smell. I hope that means
it’s real leather. This is the DynaTAC in here. Good old Velcro. Whoa. That is crazy. And this is your
antenna-looking thing. It has a digital screen.
The buttons are pretty soft. It really does have
some heft to it. It’d be kinda funny to see
how many phones today would equal the thickness
of the DynaTAC. One, two, three. Five, seven, ten
of today’s smart phones thick. But that’s how far we’ve come. If that isn’t Moore’s Law
for you, I don’t know what is. This battery comes off. “May explode
if disposed in fire.” Slide that back on. So these phones operated
on the very first wireless network
ever created, which we’ll now
refer back to as 1G. 1G networks are not
still operational. They haven’t been in,
like, 20 years, but I’m kinda thinking
of things that I think people would say
on 1980s phone calls. Hey, you gonna be
at jazzercise today, Bill? My fax should have
gone through by now.
Hopefully you got that. – Hey, are you home yet?
– Yeah, I just got here. Can you set up the VCR
to record “Golden Girls”
on the VHS today? – For sure.
– I’m probably gonna miss it. Bill, relax.
I sent the fax. You’ll get it soon, okay?It’s hard to imagine
a time now
without a cell phone
in every pocket.
So I need to know,
how did the DynaTAC create
an entirely new world
of portable communication
where it didn’t exist before?First of all, welcome.
Thanks for joining me. – Thank you, my friend.
– I want to start by asking you to check underneath
your chair. I can do that, I guess. Oh! That’s cra–
yo, I’m done. I’m done. Look how big this antenna is.
This is huge. Man, this phone is mad heavy. Like, if you ever
got into a problem, you could throw it at somebody
and actually win a fight. Like, this thing is just baller.
It’s so cool! Marques:
So I want to take it back before the days
of any cellular phones. What was that world like? ( phones ringing ) Lisa:
Before there were cell phones,
you could make a phone call
from home
before you left your house.But if there was an emergency
or if your car broke down,
you had to use a pay phone.
– This is an emergency. Give me the local
fire department paramedics. Until the car phone came out. – ( phone ringing )
– Brad:Motorola was
this tech company,
and what Motorola was developing
were these car phones. The car phone
was the first mobile phone, and they were only mobile
in the sense that you could
fit them into your trunk. Announcer:
More and more people have
a phone in their car,
like this unique cellular
portable made by Motorola.
Michael:
They were massive, massive
pieces of equipment
that drew a lot of power.Announcer:
And they are a hot item.
A year from now,
every metropolitan area
of the nation will have
cellular phone service.
Brad:
So, the challenge
with the tech
was how to fit
all of the crap
in the trunk of the car,the antenna
on the top of the car,
into an actual portable
handheld cell phone. There was a team within Motorola
led by Dr. Martin Cooper.Dr. Cooper emerged
as the leading proponent of,
“Hey, people are gonna
want to buy
portable cellular telephones.We need to build them.And we need to build them
in a massively short
amount of time.”
Because they knew that
there was gonna be competition.
And I think
one of the engineers said, “Oh, that sounds great.
I’ll get around to that.” And Dr. Cooper said,
“You don’t understand. We have to build this
in six weeks.” What’s crazy
is they were able to do it. Whoa.Marty Cooper and his team
at Motorola
were in a race
against rival phone company
Bell Laboratories
to come up with the world’s
first cell phone.
So, who better to tell
that story
than the legend himself?Martin Cooper:
At the beginning,
it was a great curiosity. I don’t think anybody
ever believed that everybody
would have them– except we did. What was the first
phone call that you made after the successful creation of that first DynaTAC
prototype? I must tell you
that I hadn’t planned on who I was gonna call.But walking down
6th Avenue in New York,
and it occurred to me,“Why don’t I call
my counterpart?”
His name was Dr. Joel Angel
at Bell Laboratories.
And I said, “Hi, Joel.
This is Marty Cooper.”
And he says, “Hi, Marty.”“Joel, I’m calling you
from a cell phone.
But a real cell phone.A handheld personal
portable cell phone.
What do you think of that?”Silence on the other
end of the line.
I could only imagine
what he was thinking,
and I suspect he was
gritting his teeth.
And that’s when things
took off.
Did you ever imagine
the technology advancing this far? Not a chance. Today, there are more
portable phones in the world
than there are people. So we never could’ve
imagined that. Amazing. I can remember
the first phone I ever got, the first smartphone
I ever got, the first time I ever
pointed a camera at myself and talked about how much
I loved my new phone. All that stuff
comes from the DynaTAC, so I feel like I owe you
a thank you, too. You’re very, very welcome. Marques:
The DynaTAC prototype
was nothing like anyone
had ever seen or sold before.
The end result
was 1.75 pounds,
stood 13 inches high,stored 30 numbers,took 10 hours to chargefor about 30 minutes
of talk time,
and cost a hefty $3,995.Adjusted for inflation,that’s over $10,000 today.By today’s standards,
this might not seem impressive,
but in the early ’80s,
the DynaTAC
was a groundbreaking
piece of technology,
and the very first
of its kind.
And in March of 1984,
the DynaTAC 8000X
officially hit the market.And this is it. This is a portable
cellular phone. When people got holdof the first portable
cellular telephone,
they didn’t want
to put them down.
They became addicted
to that convenience. I think it’s the greatest thing
that I’ve ever had, and it’s something
that I wanted somebody to come up with
for a long time. Brad:
So, after the DynaTAC
comes out,
cell phones do blow up,
but it’s a limited blow-upbecause these phones
were so expensive.
The prevailing attitude
at the time was how are you gonna get people to buy a $4,000 handset?This is gonna be a toy
for the rich
and nobody’s gonna
buy the thing.
( tires squeal ) Brad:
But once pop culture started
pushing this stuff out,
people were buying
these phones to show out. Very famously, of course,
the film “Wall Street”
featured the phone, and I remember thinking
as a kid,“Wow, I really
want one of those.
It looks like
it makes you cool.”
I don’t care
where or how you get it, just get it. And there was
“Saved by the Bell.” The Zack Morris phone. I’m, I guess, a little young. I don’t think I’ve ever seen
“Saved By The Bell.” – Who is Zack Morris?
– What? And what is
the Zack Morris phone? All right.“Saved By The Bell”
was an iconic
mid-’90s television show
where Zack Morris
essentially terrorizes
everyone in the school.He would have this phone,making calls
and doing deals,
and essentially
putting his friends
in very precarious
predicaments all the time.
I’d like to order
a large pizza and the hottest peppers
you can find. When kids saw Zack Morris
using a cell phone,we talked about that phone.Like, “Yo, we want that.” Lisa:
That was when we really
started to see
the DynaTAC 8000X
entering the mainstream for the everyday person. Marques:
Four decades after
the DynaTAC 8000X
was first released,
mobile phones have become
the most used electronic
device in the world.
But these last 40 years
haven’t been without
some questionable designs
along the way.
So, we have with us
some of the most interesting and unique designs
from that time, and we also have
fellow YouTuber and friend Austin Evans to help
take a look at those.Austin has reviewed tech
for over a decade on YouTube,
and he especially loves
all things cellular.
…to this. This is “Dope Or Nope.” All right, let’s take
a look at the first one. This is called the Motorola
StarTAC Rainbow. – Is this from
the ’90s, perhaps?
– This is from 1998. Go ahead and flip this open. Oh, wow.
It’s actually original. – Yeah.
– I think ’90s are still cool. There was
a matte black version
that you didn’t get. You got the rainbow version. – What? Wait.
– That is sick. It looks like you made it
out of Play-Doh. I like the look
of this phone. – It’s so ’90s, it’s so cool.
– And you got plenty of– Oh, God, you’re
probably about to mount
this to your belt. I am– you read my mind. – Aw.
– Pretty sure I count
as a dad now, right? – That’s the SIM card.
– This is the SIM card? Oh, it even has the cut-out.
Oh, wow. See, but it feels so che–
( gasps ) ( laughs ) Sorry, I’m getting a call.
One moment. – Are you getting a call?
– Just let me make sure I’m– – Yeah.
– He’s got it. No, the GameBoy’s
gonna be big, yeah. Yeah, we should buy. Marques: All right,
so I think we should place our bets on the price,
’cause I don’t know the price of this one.
I think this is $400. Oh, I was gonna say $400.
I agree. Okay. The price tag
is on the bottom of the box. ( laughing ) Starting price, $1,000. This cost $1,000? For a thousand bucks
to feel this cheap
is simply unacceptable. Good-bye. Gosh.
I hate talking to you. That’s a nope. So, this next one is called
the Siemens Xelibri 6, and all I know about it
is that it was targeted for the female demographic. And that is it. It’s like a compact, right? Uh, what is that? Like a–
like a makeup thing. This is that,
but without the makeup. I think if we boot this up, we can see what
the screens are about. ( music playing ) Oh, oh. Okay, I’m losing all
my respect for this phone. So, we have what I assume
is signal flashing here, and then your battery life
is your heart. So, dude,
I have one heart left. So many bad ideas
in such a small space. Pictures.
Oh, let’s look at pictures. Cake.bmp. What if these are all
pre-loaded photos that you could send to people
because they were already in your library
as a reaction, kind of like the way
we use emojis right now? – Hmm.
– That’s cool. But, like, what is–
what is this? What is this?
Like, who am I,
really, right now? This is clearly designed
by a bunch of dudes
who are like, “Oh, you know what women
are gonna love? This.” There’s a lengthy list
of possible pros and cons, – mostly cons for this phone.
– Mm-hmm. This is definitely,
I’m gonna say, missing the mark. So, the Xelibri 6,
that’s a nope. Austin:
That’s a nope for me. All right, so,
this next one comes
to us from Nokia. This one was dubbed
the Lipstick Phone,
and that is… – Oh, word.
– …this here. This is totally
from “Star Wars.” You mean, like
a lightsaber, kind of? Austin: Yeah, yeah! ( gasps ) A camera! – Is that a camera?
– Yes! Whoa, it’s got a click wheel. So, dude, this thing
is actually really cool. The UI must be wild. Okay, I think
we have to turn it on. Can you find a power button
is the question? – What about this one?
– There’s, like, zero descriptors
on this at all. There’s not, like, one word
besides the word “Nokia” on it. Marques: Wait,
what is happening right now? Okay, so, think 2000s.
Think. Is there a button
on the side? There’s a couple buttons, but none of these
are screaming – power button at me.
– Wait, no. Austin: Hey! Marques:
The red button turns it on. Oh, look at that.
We’ve got a full color display. Wow. So you’re just meant
to use it in landscape. Marques: But I need to see
what this camera looks like. I mean, I’m sure
it’s not going to be great. It’s 2004, like, whatever.
Set and… – Not bad, not bad.
– Other phones have T9. You have a keyboard
for a reason. You don’t have
a keyboard on this phone, so if you’re texting,
you’re texting
with that wheel. – Good luck.
– Okay, just take a step back. – Mm-hmm.
– Okay, put yourself in 2004. Look at how cool this looks. I just don’t think
I can give this dope – because it’s not–
– Really? Maybe because I’m not
a huge lipstick guy. I don’t know what it is. Yeah, Nokia 7280
for me is a nope. Well, it gets
a certified dope from me. Awesome, well, thank you
for taking that journey
with me, Austin. – Of course, man. Any time.
– I appreciate it. “Dope Or Nope,” signing out. Marques:
Since the DynaTAC’s
release in 1983,
thousands of unique
cell phone models
have circulated the world.And in my personal
pockets alone,
I’ve owned and tested several
hundred different models.
But this cell phone boom
wasn’t immediate.
It took years
after the DynaTAC’s release
for the cost of cell phones
to drop down far enough
in order to be accessible
for most people.
So, in the mid-1980s, that’s
when a much cheaper device
was introduced
to the mainstream.
Enter the pager.Announcer:Get the pager.
It’s affordable,
it’s portable, from Motorola.Boom. The pager dropped. Michael:
And a pager was just a little
box you wore on your belt,
and it would buzz
when people called
a specific number,
your pager number.
So if a friend
was at a payphone,
they could call
your pager number
and then you would call
that payphone back.
You were immediately
reachable.
You didn’t have to go home
to get your messages from your answering machine. Gerard:So, now that
the pager dropped,
it’s like, yo,
it ain’t a cell phone,
but it’s still something that we can use
to communicate with.A lot of people
in the hood–
like, hip-hop, music,entertainers,
once it got into that world,
everything started
to explode and change. You can’t be a hip-hop fan
and not know the beginning
of Biggie Smalls’ “Warning,” which is just the beep… ( beeping ) –And then…
– ♪ Who the hell is this ♪♪ Paging me at 5:46
in the morning ♪
♪ Crack of dawn
and now I’m yawning ♪
When that happened,
you had to have a pager. Man, gotta spin the chain
on that, baby. Lisa:
Pagers were everywhere,
and people developed
their own language
to communicate through pagers.Michael:
You don’t have to put
a phone number in there,
you can put in whatever
numbers you want.
So people started
sending coded messages. Lisa:
It kind of lead to
this whole vernacular
very similar to the way
we have our own language
when we text people todaywith emojis and bitmojis
and things like that. The pager gave birth
to texting. Marques:
So, in the ’80s and ’90s,
pagers were a convenient option
because phone booths
were on every corner.
But today,
in New York City,
there are only
three phone booths left.
So I’m here at one of themat the corner of 90th Street
and West End Ave.,
where I’m waiting for a pagefrom fellow YouTube creator
Sara Dietschy.
On her channel, Sara’s always
tackling new tech,
so hopefully we can figure out
the pager together.
I’m leaving my phone number. I guess now I have to wait
for him to call me back. ( beeping ) That’s jarring. Oh, I hold it down
to see the number. – ( dial tone )
– Dial tone. – Hello?
Hey.This is the first page
I have literally ever sent. This is the first page
I’ve ever received, also. Voice:Please insert 25 cents
for another three minutes.
Sounds like a rip-off. Before this call disconnects,
let’s just meet at the studio and figure out
this whole pager thing. ( click ) I hope she got that. All right, so,
we’re back at the studio. I’m just kind of curious
in general, like, what do
you know about pagers? I’ve seen it in
one episode of “Friends” when Ross got a pager
when his kid was being born. So, for, like,
emergencies, right? – “Call me.”
– Important messages. – Yeah.
– Something like that. So, I’ve been told
that there’s a certain thing
called pager codes.Back in the day,
people would send each other
strings of numbers
as a messaging system,
– kind of like an early text.
– A text message, okay.
Marques:In codes.What we’re gonna
try to do is decode what sort of message
we just received. We have the answers here,
and we have our little – whiteboards here.
– Feel like I’m back at school. We’ll try to see
if we can figure out,
against each other, if one of us can get it right. You’re going down. I mean, I’m not
confident at all, so I– Me neither, so I don’t
know why I said that. I’m just gonna go ahead
and give it a shot. – Ooh.
– ( beeping ) – That’s so loud.
– Okay. – Can you not?
– And awful. – Sara: 707.
– Oh, that’s easy. Done. Yes. I finished that first. Yeah. Yeah. – Dang it!
– But I got it first. Hold on, so you’re telling me
people in the ’80s were the ones
who came up with LOL? Yeah, that predated
texting, I guess. – Wow.
– Next page. Next page, please. ( beeping ) – I just want that to stop.
– Mm-hmm. – 187.
– Interesting. – 187.
– Seven. I feel like these codes,
there’s so much more thought that’s put into it than,
like, LOL. – You’re distracting me
from my answer.
– I’m so sorry. – Ready?
– Yep. I’m the late one. And I got that by– when I turned it
upside down, I got L-8-1. Yeah, this is truly horrible. What did you get? “I am hungry.” – Like, “ate,” food.
– Yeah. And then I would probably
text this to people. But then, like,
who is hungry? I got the text
from an unknown– an unknown source is hungry. I don’t think
either of us is right. No, I don’t think so either. All right.
“I hate you. You’re dead.” – That’s so mean.
– “You’re–” What? What? Sara:
“Police code for murder.” Why would anyone know that? “Uh, we got a 187 over here on Northwest
Broadway Street.” That’s what people
are paging each other? – Yep.
– I guess it give me
an appreciation for how creative you had
to get to send a message. – ( beeping )
– This is the last one. – This is the last page.
– Yep. – Okay, one, dash.
– Dash. I love how we want to do it
at the same time. One– 1-177155-400. – So that’s probably
three words.
– Ooh! – Do you know
what it is already?
– I have no idea. This is something
you would page someone. I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.
I just wrote this down as a bail-out
answer because… I am so unconfident. – Ready?
– Yep. I picked the police
codes category. I picked the turning it
upside down, and the only thing
I saw was “ill.” – So, “I’m sick.”
– Ill? Where’s “ill”? Oh, 177? – Wait.
– That’s “L-L-I.” – I am just confused.
– Upside down and backwards. – I am utterly confused.
– So, look, we’re both
probably wrong. – Reveal!
– This is the final answer. – “I miss you.”
– What? I miss you. I miss you? Oh! Wow. It was spelling it out
right-ways. It was spelling it out. It was right
in front of our face. The 177 makes an “M.” – Now it’s so obvious…
– Yes. now that you can see the “M.” But thank goodness
for technology, because this is insane. Marques:
I think we both learned
what it was like – to have a pager in the ’80s.
– Yeah. It’s kind of funny.
This might even be further ahead of its time
than the DynaTAC was, just because if you
have a quick message you want to say, like,
“Hey, you’re dead to me,” you might just make a little
text message out of itinstead of calling them up
and saying it.
Thank you for taking
the journey with me. Thank you so much, Marques. –I’m glad we did this.
– Sara:Same.Marques:
Of course, nowadays
you can send texts
and make phone calls
on one device,
but the ways in which
we use our cell phones
are still evolving to this day,
40 years later.
What is the legacy
of the DynaTAC?And then what is
the legacy of pagers?
Lisa:Mobile phones
are the most used
electronic device
in the world.
Without the DynaTAC,
without this idea
that you wanted to take
your phone calls with you,
who knew
if there would be the idea that we wanted to take
everything else with us, too? Gerard:The DynaTAC created
a new level of relationships.
Relationship happens
through connection,
so the better
you can create something that allows us
to connect better
is groundbreaking. Michael:
Compared to the DynaTAC,
I think pagers
have a less visible history,but they pioneered
this era of text first.Nobody talks
on phones anymore.
Everyone texts,
and pagers were the first embryonic form of that. Brad:
The age breakdowns
work as well,
where it’s, like,
younger kids are just texting,
and then our old parents
always want to call usfor no good reason.Today, we look at this and say,
“What a brick.” But you can’t have
our current information agewithout the technological
innovation
that the DynaTAC started.It’s a massively important
piece of history.
Not just communication
history– history.
Marques:
So, wow, this was such
a fun one to throw back to,
because this one
I feel like is the legacy
that I’m most familiar with.Before mobile phones, before this communication
that has spread so far, the amount of people you could
have a conversation withor could connect with at all
was much more limited.
But now that almost
everyone can have some sort
of mobile phone, it sort of shrinks the world,
and allows you and everyoneto communicate with
more people than ever before
at any other point
in history.
So thank you
for your dedication, Dr. Marty Cooper. Thank you, Motorola. Thank you, DynaTAC 8000X. And thank you for watching. Peace.

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