More than three quarters of Americans own a smartphone and 95% of Americans have a cell phone of some kind, according to Pew Research Center. As phone technology has progressed over the years, use of the devices has expanded from simple communication to nearly every major facet of life.
The modern telephone has evolved considerably since its invention in 1876, and each development has altered the way people live and interact with the world. 24/7 Wall St. conducted an extensive review of the phones that represented breakthroughs in the industry. From Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone to the latest iPhone, these devices represent the hottest phones in history.
Some of these phones had limited success on the market, but they still forever changed the way the devices were used. The phone Bell used at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 to introduce the technology to visitors from around the world was owned by few households. Yet this phone changed the perceptions about the capabilities of the technology for public use. Other early Bell phones were also not widely owned by many but represented breakthroughs.
Other phones on this list perhaps introduced smaller technological improvements, but because of marketing, design, and timing, managed to become extremely popular nonetheless. The Nokia 1100, the top-selling phone of all time, capitalized on a simple, cheap design and emerging global markets to sell more than 250 million units worldwide between 2003 and 2009.
Still other phones represented such marked improvements over existing technology at the time that they became widely adopted and used for years. The original iPhone implemented a simple touchscreen design and forever changed the smartphone standard, while also selling millions of devices within the year.
Sometimes, phone design may be ahead of the technology it requires. When cordless phones first came out around 1980, the Federal Communications Commission allocated the phones a frequency too narrow for their eventual popularity. Users experienced frequent interference and would often hear their neighbor’s phone calls. About one-third of all mid-range cordless phones were returned in the product’s early days. This may be one reason why — unlike most innovative phone technologies — not one cordless phone brand ever dominated the market.