It's easy to forget -- or perhaps we just want to forget -- the push-button, touchscreen-less cell phones of yore. But to do so would ignore the marvelous technological achievement that today's smartphones are. Fortunately, Japanese wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo has made it easier to appreciate the revolutionary device with a retrospective on the mobile phone, currently on display in Tokyo this week.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, NTT DoCoMo put together a showcase of mobile phones from 1987 to 2012 as part of Tokyo Designers Week, reports the design culture blog Designboom. If you can't make it to Japan to check out the exhibition yourself, NTT DoCoMo also put together a huge graphic of the 611 phones in its showcase, posted below.
More than anything else, the graphic drives home how paradigms shift in cell phone design. Motorola's launch of the RAZR in 2004 was followed by numerous takeoffs of the very popular flip phone over the following few years. But by 2007, Apple released the iPhone, prompting other phone makers to start making phones with touchscreens that take over the whole face of handsets, too. (In turn, Apple responded to the supposed copycats by pursuing massive patent suits against multiple companies around the world.)