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Before they got smart: When cellphones were hideous

Story highlights

  • In honor of Mobile World Congress, here's a gallery of ugly, outdated cellphones
  • Even a decade or so ago, phones had dull gray screens, clamshell designs or tiny keypads

These days, almost all new cellphones look alike: They're sleek black rectangles with glowing color screens.

They're handsome, slender, well-dressed and a little predictable. If they were human, they'd be infomercial hosts. We often take them for granted.

But as anyone over the age of 15 remembers, it wasn't always this way.

In hindsight, mobile phones used to be downright ugly.

As Mobile World Congress -- the planet's largest mobile-tech show -- prepares to kick off in Barcelona, Spain, we thought we'd offer this gallery to remind us all how far we have come.

Twenty-five years ago, early adopters like Gordon Gekko and Zack Morris were lugging around phones the size of footballs. Even a decade or so ago, most phones had dull gray screens, clamshell designs or tiny keypads that made you hit a button over and over to text one letter of the alphabet.

    So, the next time you complain about your iPhone, Evo or Galaxy S III, remember: You could still be trying to communicate on one of these balky relics.

    What was your first cellphone? Does it conjure up any old stories? Do you still have it? Let us know in the comments.