It seemed unlikely back in January 2007 that a rectangular handheld touchscreen would change how people communicate and interact with the digital world. But they did, and they’ve become a global economic engine, as nearly five billion people use them around the world.
“The moment (then-Apple CEO) Steve Jobs walked on stage in San Francisco and pulled the first iPhone out of his pocket, the world changed forever,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight research firm and avid collector of mobile phones.
Wood’s collection of more than 1,000 phones spans three decades. He has some of the rarest models, including the Motorola 8000X, the phone used in the movie Wall Street. He also has a Simon, IBM’s Personal Communicator released in 1994 that eventually sold 50,000 units.
For nearly two decades, Wood has been a mobile industry researcher and opinion leader, globetrotting to events like Mobile World Congress and the International Consumer Electronics Show to stay up on the latest innovations. He still remembers clearly the epiphanic moment when he realized he was on a mobile device odyssey with no end in sight.
“I quickly realized that I was living through an important historical event, so in 1994 I started collecting mobile phones,” he said.
“It’s been a passion of mine ever since and it’s a unique snapshot of an incredible period of extreme innovation.”