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Legendary Motorola StarTAC: Revisiting the world's first flip phone

A closer look at the clamshell phone that changed the world, through the most colorful variant you've ever seen.

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Jessica Dolcourt
Motorola StarTAC first flip phone
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This rainbow version of the legendary Motorola StarTAC may look like a child's toy, but it represents one of the most famous phones of its day.

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On Jan. 3, 1996, Motorola introduced the StarTAC, which was made of black plastic (this colorful version came a couple years later). It was the world's first flip phone and it cost $1,000.

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The StarTAC changed everything. It was light. It was ultraportable.

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Motorola even called the StarTAC a "wearable" phone. "It can be worn fashionably as an accessory," the press release said.

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This Rainbow version differs from the original, 1996 model, but the nuts and bolts are about the same.

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Including the small screen and the pull-out antenna.

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Yep, this is what phone chargers used to look like, and each brand more often than not used a proprietary connector.

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The StarTAC held 100 phone numbers and had several large buttons on the keypad and spines.

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The StarTAC was one of the first phones to use a vibration motor so you could silently accept calls.

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Pull-out antennas were common in the mid- to late 1990s, and even persisted into the early 2000s.

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Motorola was exceedingly proud of the StarTAC's height. When closed, it measured 8cm (3.1 inches) from the bottom to the top, not including the pushed-in antenna. It's closer to 4 inches when you include that essential part.

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This rainbow version keeps its battery on the top like a camel's hump.

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This slider pops out the SIM card...

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...which is about the same size as a credit card.

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The SIM card is inactive, so the phone doesn't work without it, but you can see the screen quality.

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One of these buttons helped operate the phone one-handed.

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The keypad has physical buttons that bounce back after your press them.

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A closer look at that stubby antenna.

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Keep scrolling for plenty more photos of this amazing retro phone, and brush up on what cell phones were like 25 years ago in 1995, before the StarTAC changed everything.

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