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1990: Car phones become more popular as prices drop

Posted at 5:30 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 05:31:18-05

INDIANAPOLIS — When mobile phones first came to Indianapolis, it was a technology seemingly reserved for the wealthy.

Phones were priced anywhere from $1,000 to $1,900.

But in 1990, that began to change.

Prices of cellular phones dropped to between $600 and $1,200, and about 40,000 Hoosiers had mobile phones that year.

While the phones were mobile, they were hardly portable.

Former RTV6 consumer reporter Barbara Boyd visited a GTE Mobilenet store in Jan. 1990.

Employees demonstrated the latest technology.

The cellular phones, or car phones, came in three styles:

  • Mounted - A cellular phone you could have installed in your vehicle.
  • Bagged - A cellular phone similar to the mounted model was placed inside a bag which could be carried around.
  • Handheld - (Think Zack Morris' phone) A bulky, less powerful phone that was truly mobile.

Using a mobile phone wasn’t cheap either.

It cost 16 cents per minute from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and 45 cents per minute from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.