Whoa, phones sure looked funny when the iPhone launched

On June 29, 2007, at 6 p.m. local time, the first iPhone went on sale at Apple Stores. While Nate Ritter waited to buy one, he took pictures of other people in the line with the phones they planned to dump once they’d become iPhone owners. His Flickr set of snapshots remains online and is a fascinating visual summary of typical phones of the time, from hideous flip phones to once-cool Treos to the Sidekick, which I desperately wanted but (for reasons I don’t recall) never had. I was reminded of models I’d forgotten ever existed, such as Nokia’s bizarre N-Gage; there’s even one guy brandishing the HTC Windows Mobile phone that I think I owned back then. (I didn’t buy an iPhone myself until a year later, when the first 3G model arrived.)

I don’t, however, see any BlackBerry models–possibly a sign that the people who owned them were more likely than most to be happy with what they had?

This almost doesn’t need saying: Not very long after that first iPhone debuted, nearly all smartphones looked an awful lot like it, and the era of the smartphone field consisting of a motley crew of unrelated designs was over.

[Photo by Nate Ritter]