How-To Geek

Radio Shack Cell Phone Commercial from 1989 [Video]

Cell phone technology has come a long way since the early days and it is progress that we can all be thankful for. This commercial from 1989 features a positively gigantic model when compared to today’s small and sleek cell phones.

1989 Radio Shack Cellular Phone Commercial [via MUO]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 09/21/12

Comments (13)

  1. r

    if you carried that thing around now in public you’d likely alert the attention of police

  2. Teeter

    $799 in 1989 is equivalent to $1485 in 2012.

    I remember those gigantic units when they were installed in cars.

  3. UUUnicorn

    Actually, the earliest cell phones were car phones–since they were too heavy and cumbersome to carry around, that’s where they would be kept.

  4. Paul

    So sick of people laughing at old technology. Just because it was big back then, doesn’t make it a target of ridicule now. It’s that technology that allowed us to have small mobile phones today. Heck, in 10 years we’ll probably be laughing at the iPhone 5 and saying how huge it was.

  5. Ema

    Sure it makes it a target for ridicule, why not.
    It looked ridiculous then; it looks even more ridiculous now.
    I respect technology but not all inventions.

  6. Dan

    I bought that in 1985, had the car kit installed where unit was docked in the trunk and the handset nicely placed next to console. Lookin real kool and had 2 different carriers to pay for! I paid close to 2K, but in under a minute it was portable. Dan

  7. Ushindi

    My first “cell” phone was an AT&T Bag Phone, just about the same size as the one in the video. Rated at 3 watts, though, compared to the normal (at the time) one-half watt. Still have it, as a keepsake only – it was an analog phone and you don’t see too many analog cell systems today…lol

  8. Ed Clark

    my brother used one of these…probably contributed to that brain-stem tumor he died from. ;) (seriously)

  9. 0xRiddle

    This is a message from the future *spooky music*.
    in a HTG article in 2028 : Apple iphone 5 commercial from 2012
    hahahaha , they used to carry that piece of junk around . And OMG they did it with their HANDS !

  10. Randall Wright

    I used several of these high wattage phones and got a Brain Tumor 15 years ago and my next door neighbor got one 10 years ago. (He and I operated Business and were high minute users)

  11. Seff22

    @ 0xRiddle : Sounds like you do it a lot with your hands.

  12. Facemelt

    Target advertising? All the people in this ad are white.

  13. Bill

    You had to have 3 watts of power back then because there were not that many cell towers. It was customary to take a full car-mount phone and put it in a carry case along with a huge battery to power the 3 watts needed to talk. I remember one of the first guys who mounted a cell phone in a brief case… we all thought that was pretty cool.

    I even remember a joke going around in those days where a guy was walking through an airport and saw a guy with two huge suitcases stop and answer his watch. Of course, back then, there was no such thing. Intrigued, the man asked about the watch phone and the user said it was the newest thing and he was a sales rep for them. “I HAVE to have that” said the customer. So they agreed on $5,000 for the price. The salesman took off his watch and handed it to the guy who turned around to leave. “Don’t forget the batteries” said the salesman pushing the two large suitcases his way…

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