Retro Throwback: Retro Handset

01 Jul Posted by in Swag Projects | Comments
Retro Throwback: Retro Handset

Today, we bring you another “Retro Throwback” item that has stuck around our industry for a few years now: the retro handset! Unsure of how this cell phone accessory movement started, it was still clearly set as a trend as we saw images of celebrities like Lenny Kravitz and Sarah Jessica Parker toting their handsets, while trotting down the street, popping up in gossip columns in both print and on the internet, alike; check out these and more on our Facebook page.

Our favorite throwback sighting with this item has to be, hands down, the Hoff rocking it in a pretty aqua color! We think he gives Marilyn a run for her money. What do YOU think?

But seriously, the handset, complete with a coiled cord, turns any media device into an old school telephone. You can also adjust the volume or answer a call with just the push of a button. Custom printed with your company logo, corporate slogan, custom message or anything else you wish to advertise, the most economic version of this tech gadget comes in five basic colors: black, blue, green, red and white. Additional colors, along with custom packaging options, are also available; all you have to do is inquire!

Picture 15607


How in the world did we get from the beginning to here? Let’s take a quick look:


“Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”



Who would have thought that those would have been the very first words ever uttered, by Alexander Graham Bell, on a successful communication via telephone on March 10th, back in 1876? The following year, the first telephone lines would be successfully constructed and, by the end of 1880, there would be 47,900 phones scattered among the United States.


By 1941, technology was evolving and the first touch-tone system, which used tones within the voice frequency range instead of the pulses that had been associated with the rotary phone, was installed in Baltimore. With the ball rolling, it took less than 30 years from then for the first cordless phone to hit the scenes and, by 1990, the Federal Communications Commission, also known as the FCC, had approved the frequency range, needed by the latest developments in cordless home phone technology, that is still in place today.


Here’s where our minds get blown, though! Did you know that it was as early as 1947 that the first car phone was investigated? Researchers were able to determine the how but, unfortunately, the technology just didn’t exist. AT&T urged the FCC to allocate a large number of radio frequencies so that, one day, the use of mobile communications could become feasible, which would have catalyzed AT&T to start researching the new technology, as well. However, the FCC only allowed enough frequency to permit 23 conversations to be held simultaneously, stunting the market research initiative AT&T previously expressed. In laymen’s terms? The public could have had cell technology long before it’s original birth, had the FCC been as progressive as the scientists of the late 1940’s!


Nevertheless, they saw the error of their ways and, in 1968, amendments were made to their cell technology position, giving birth to cell phones as we know them today. By 1973, the first cellular call was made and, boy was it a doozy; Martin Cooper, the general manager for the systems department of Motorola, called his arch nemesis, Joel Engel, the head of research at Bell Labs. While we, here at Swagmatic, haven’t seen a transcription of the phone call, we imagine the conversation went a little something like this:


*phone ringing*

Engel: “Hello?”

Cooper: “Engel. It’s Cooper. I’m calling from what will be known as the first modern portable handset. NaNaNaNa BooBoo.”

Engel: “Shit.” *click*

Cooper: “Bwahahahaha”

Retro_Martin Cooper










Regardless, by 1987, with the cellular system constructed by Bell Labs and the first devices initialized by Motorola, there were over a million cellular device subscribers crowding the airwaves thanks to the dueling duo.


Today, everyone has a cell phone and, while we have no market research statistics sitting in front of us, we’d be willing to bet that the use of the phone as Alexander Graham Bell envisioned it continues to die out with each passing year and the constant evolution of the devices we use today. With the persistent growth of the telecommunications industry, it’s no wonder items as unique, or even silly, as the retro handset have inserted themselves into the printed promotional product industry within the past few years!