Who needs an iPhone? Rare footage shows world’s first ever smartphone … in 1922

Updated: September 20, 2012

THE reception wasn’t great and it needed an umbrella for an aerial – but this clunky looking device was the iPhone of its day.

These rare images unearthed from the archive of newsreel company British Pathe are believed to show the world’s first ever smartphone – and it even had its very own equivalent of iTunes.

And while smartphone fans prepare to flock to Apple stores for the new iPhone 5, the glamorous women in Pathe’s historic news clip from 1922 seem just as impressed with their new device.

Entitled ‘Eve’s Wireless’, the silent footage shows a hand-held device being wired up to an umbrella and attached to a fire hydrant in order to earth its electrical charge.

A caption explains: “It’s Eve’s portable ‘phone – and won’t hubby have a time when he has to carry one!”

The world’s first smartphone – nearly 90 years before the iPhone

The film shows the women communicating with a telephone exchange, which ‘downloads’ MUSIC to them over the airwaves via a GRAMOPHONE.

Experts say the technology in the film is real. It is believed to make use of a small ‘Cat’s Whisker’ HF radio. It is not know who created the device in the film … but it’s certainly not an Apple product!

The footage is now available on YouTube, where a note from by British Pathe states:

“This clip from 1922 shows that 90 years ago, mobile phone technology and music on the move was not only being thought of, but being trialled.”

Modern web users seem equally impressed. One viewer joked: “Hey, I’m gonna replace my iPhone for this right now!”

Others viewers commented on how glamorous looking the women in the clip are.

A spokesman for British Pathe added “Eve’s Wireless stunned the tech world when we discovered it in our archive a few months ago.

The 1922 ‘smartphone’ connects to the telephone exchange

“What you see in the video is essentially a fire hydrant connected to a long wire aerial that wraps around an umbrella. We think the video’s success has a lot to do with the two glamorous women who are demonstrating the phone.

“British Pathé made a whole series of videos to engage women in the early twentieth century and Eve was the name of the central character. There is no doubt that these women would have been actresses exhibiting the product. Still – it’s lovely to see an all-female cast for such a pioneering technology video”

You can view the footage here

Meanwhile Apple’s iPhone 5 boasts a larger touch screen then previous versions and also contains a host of improved features. Apple says pre-orders for the device have topped two million, double the number of pre-orders of the iPhone 4S.

Not quite iTunes … a gramaphone connects to the 1922 ‘smartphone’


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