The original ‘brick’ phone sold for nearly $4,000 but you can get one in Phnom Penh for only $80.
The cellphone turned 35 last month and appears to be undergoing something of a midlife crisis. The classic “brick” phone is back, antenna and all, inspiring a jaunt down memory lane.
The very first brick – the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X – hit shop shelves in the US on March 6, 1983.
It was ten years after the first cellular phone call was made by Motorola manager Martin Cooper from the streets of New York on April 3, 1973. Cooper cheekily called Bell Labs head of research Joel Engel.
The DynaTAC (“Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage”) was an instant hit. Everyone from high-power execs to drug dealers wanted to be the first to get their hands on these awesomely unwieldy portable analogue brain-fryers.
Weighing in at nearly 1kg, the phone offered just a half-hour of talk time for every 10-hour charge. It had a standby life of eight hours.
Measuring 34 x 4.5 x 9 centimeters (13 x 1.75 x 3.5 inches) in dimension, the DynaTAC featured an LED display and memory to store 30 “dialing locations.” Wooo.
And it cost some $3,995 – in 1983 dollars. Waiting lists were in the thousands.
But now you can buy your piece of history on the cheap!
Chinese-made replicas of the original brick are available in Phnom Penh for about $80. Sold under the equally classic brand name Aston Martin (don’t ask), these alluring brown, black and grey models are a step up from the original.
Known in Khmer as “cow legs,” they are slightly smaller, lighter and have better batteries than the DynaTAC. They also work with run-of-the-mill SIM cards and can store and play your favorite MP3s – very loudly.
“We keep one at home. We don’t take it out but we use it like a house phone,” said one phone vendor outside the Mondial Center.
Unlike their glossy, ultra-thin cousins, these mammoths of the mobile world are unlikely to get lost inside your sofa or down the back of a car seat. Downgrade today!