It is nearly 150 years since the first phone was invented and patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Since then the phone has evolved from the bulky earliest models to the smartphones of today.

In the 1930s, famed industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss created what many consider to be the first modern telephone, the Model 302. Its design was a departure from earlier models, the ringer was now in the phone, instead of a separate component, the cradle lies horizontally, and you speak and listen to the same piece resting on top.

After the Model 302, AT&T realized it could sell the phone to the masses. The phone’s traditionally square base was replaced by a slimmer design with a touchpad, called the Trimline, first produced by the phone company in 1965. The * and # buttons were added too.

The phone started getting smaller in size from the 1960s. The Grillo Cricket can fold up, setting it apart from other phones at the time. The clam-shell shape influenced the design of the modern flip phone.

In 1977, the restrictions that prevented people from buying and designing their phones, was restricted. This decision, along with AT&T’s divestment from the Bell Company, resulted in all kinds of creative phone designs, including the 1980s Beocom phone.

Starting in the early 1980s, some companies experimented with high design phones. The Enorme Telephone had a box shape, foreshadowing popular phones to come with geometric pops of primary colors.

Car phones, were briefly popular in the 1970s and 1980s until personal cellphones became accessible.

Phones started shrinking even more in the early 1990s. You could charge the 1994 Talisman phone on the base that came with it.


Two years later, Motorola launched the the StarTAC, a small gray flip phone with a display screen and oval keys.

The iPhone, which debuted in 2007, transformed the phone by turning it into a tiny, mobile computer. Though other touchscreen phones had come before it, the iPhone’s sleek interface revolutionized mobile phone design.

Current smartphone models have major improvements, from sporting three or more high-quality cameras to Retina display to an A13 bionic chip that allows for faster processing.
Some recent models, like the yet to-be available Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip, indicate that phone design might be heading back towards foldable styles.

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