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5 Awesome Retro Cell Phone Commercials

Steven Blum

It's Friday and with all these apps and gadgets we have to review before the weekend, we're feeling a bit nostalgic for simpler times -- you know, like when cell phones cost just under $600, weighed more than a brick and came with massive detachable battery backs. Come take a step back in time and enter the world of retro cell phone commercials...

The first known cell phone commercial was by a company named Centel. The ad focused on the various locales where one could take a cell phone; from a Jeep to a boat, through puddles and waves. Sure it was a big, bulky thing, but you could take it with you through herds of sheep! Oh, and of course, sex sells: there had to be at least one woman answering a phone call in her bathing suit. 

Think those hidden Bluetooth receivers make people look schizophrenic? Turns out, the whole are-you-talking-on-a-phone-or-talking-to-me joke was actually born way back in 1996. Witness this vintage Sony Ericsson cell phone commercial wherein a lonely man thinks a woman is hitting on him when she's really making plans with her lover through a cell phone hidden in her big-ass hair. 

While attempting to drill home the portability of a cell phone this Radio Shack ad inadvertantly drew attention to just how bulky and impractical early cell phones were. Bring it with you in your car -- though you'll have to keep it in the trunk! Take it to a business meeting, sit it down next to your salad, and from there its battery pack will stare down on your lunch like a black void.

Most old ads make us feel nostalgic for a time when everything was cheap, but sometimes we forget just how expensive all the technology around us used to be. This price-driven, minimalistic cell phone ad by the late Highland Superstores focuses on how cheap their cell phones were -- just $595! But your friends will think you've paid even more... 

GE never became a very big name in the cell phone carrier world, and perhaps this ad proves why. Like in most infommercials, GE made sure to have a coked-up narrator, lots of flashing price tags and the kind of story-arc that leaves little to the imagination. Looks like the company was mostly after construction contractors here. Though, we must admit the slogan "The Affordable Portable" is actually pretty catchy.