Motorola MicroTAC 9800X

Model NameMicroTAC 9800X
ManufacturerMotorola Inc.
Year of Release1989
Specificationsred dot-matrix LED display, 12-button keypad, 350g weight
Original Retail PriceUS $2,495 - $3,495
Seen inHook (1991), Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The MicroTAC 9800X is an analogue cellular phone produced and released by Motorola, Inc. in the year of 1989. The 9800X, the predecessor of the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, was the smallest and lightest phone available at the time and can be seen as the parent of “flip phones”.

MicroTac 9800x: First cellphone to fit into your shirt’s pockets

Upon its release on April 25, 1989 the Motorola MicroTAC gained huge popularity and attention due to its slim shape and light weight (12.3 ounces; 350 g). The phone measured only as few as 9 inches (23 cm) long when open therefore easily fitting into your shirt’s pockets. Other available mobile phones at the time were of much larger size and weight more resembling a brick.

The 9800x featured a red dot-matrix LED display and came with a standard 12-button keypad along with buttons for Power, Function, Name/Menu, End, Send, Clear, Store and Recall. Other models of the MicroTAC 9800X such as the Norwegian and Italian version were equipped with a liquid crystal display (LCD) and green backlight. Not new for its time but still interesting features were the built-in alpha-numeric phone book, a numerically organized menu and a currency and charge rate calculator.

Other than expected the microphone of the 9800x was not situated in the flip mouthpiece but in the body of the phone. The same applies to the extendable antenna which had no function at all and was just there for show.

Peter Bannings (Robin Williams) using a MicroTac9800x in the movie Hook (1991)

More generations of the 9800x followed

The MicroTAC 9800X retailed at a price between U.S. $2,495 and U.S. $3,495. In the UK the phone was sold for around £1765. Accessories available for the phone amongst others included a car and overnight travel chargers, installed hands-free car kits, and a selection of batteries. The MicroTac 9800x was available for all major mobile networks, namely: AMPS (US), ETACS (EU), NMT (EU) and JTAC (JP).

The product line of Motorola MicroTac phones continued until the year of 1998 with around 40 MicroTac models released until then.

The Motorola MicroTAC 9800x became a popular object in major Hollywood productions and appeared in movies such as Hook (1991) or Reservoir Dogs (1992). In the movie Hook Petter Bannings who is played by Robin Williams can be seen holding a 9800x before being thrown out of the window.



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