Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Motorola 4500X Hand Portable Phone

It's really easy to forget just how awful, and large mobile phones used to be and one look at the Motorola 4500X serves as a reminder that mobile phones were once something that you really didn't want to carry around unless you had to.

I picked this model up on eBay for around £25 if my memory serves me. It came in great condition with a mains power supply and car power supply, antenna and its own Motorola carrying bag. Dating from the late 1980s, the 4500X weighs in at a whopping 3.5kg and is basically a handset connected to a heavy box containing the battery and electronics via a cable. The unit measures 260mm long by 118mm wide by 175mm tall (270mm if you count the antenna). This type of phone was known as a hand portable and it was just one step up from a car phone. The handset itself has a basic set of numeric buttons and some function keys, with a very simple LED display for output. There are no letters on the keys, because at the time of release, text messaging had yet been developed.


Unfortunately the phone operated on the now obsolete ETACS system. Total Access Communication System (TACS) and ETACS are mostly-obsolete variants of Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) which was announced as the choice for the first two UK national cellular systems in Feb 1983, less than a year after the UK government announced the T&Cs for the two competing mobile phone networks in June 1982.

TACS cellular phones were used in Europe and other countries (including the UK, Italy & Ireland. TACS was also used in Japan under the name Japanese Total Access Communication (JTAC). It was also used in Hong Kong. ETACS was an extended version of TACS with more channels.

TACS and ETACS are now obsolete in Europe, having been replaced by the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) system. In the United Kingdom, the last ETACS service operated by Vodafone was discontinued on 31 May 2001, after sixteen years of service. The competing service in the UK operated by Cellnet (latterly BTCellnet) was closed on Sunday 1 October 2000. Eircell (now Vodafone Ireland) closed its TACS network on 26 January 2001.


I love these old phones and they provide an interesting look at the not so distant past where they were the new high tech thing to have. Obviously a long way away from the iPhone 6!

I have a few old mobile phones which I'll blog when I get chance so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

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