Motorola 8000X

Motorola Dynatac 8000x, authur:Redrum0486, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0

The Motorola 8000X, or to give it its full title, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, was the world's first hand held mobile phone. It was the original brick mobile phone from the Yuppie era of the 80s.

Recent reports of Motorola 8000Xs selling for over 1000 have fuelled a new interest in these old brick phones.

If you are wanting to buy one of these on eBay, then it pays to know as much as possible.  The Motorola 8000M and 8000S are very similar.

How to identify an 8000X

Small LEDs

The main distinguishing feature between the 8000X and the later 8000M phones is the display. The 8000X had small LEDs. The 8000M, 8500X and later phones had larger LEDs. The small LEDs are also shared with the 8000S, which was a cheaper version of the 8000X and seems to be more common.

Often this does not help on eBay as the batteries in these phone often do not work, meaning that the display is not visible. The screens on both types of phone are the same size and look exactly the same when the phone is off.

Buttons

On most of the 8000Xs I have seen, the first nine buttons, have just numbers on them, not numbers and letters. This is also true of the 8000S. However, the original publicity shot for Motorola shows numbers and letters, so this might not be an ideal guide.  US versions of the phones may also have letters and numbers.

The 8000S has one fewer button in the bottom row. It does not have the 'Fcn' key and the 'Lock' key is moved up one.

On the 8000M, the function keys always appear to have capital letters on them, but on the 8000X and 8000S they start with a capital letter, with the remainder in lower case lettering. So it would be 'Lock' on the 8000X and 8000S and 'LOCK' on the 8000M. I am not certain this is always the case, but this looks to be a good rule of thumb.

The 'Snd' button on the 8000X and 8000S, seems to be orange/red rather than pink/red on the later phones.

Colours

The DynaTAC 8000X was sold in several colour combinations. I am aware of tan and grey, black and white, dark grey and tan and white. There may be other combinations.

Logos

The Dynatac 8000X was sold with several logos. Sometimes it just said 'Motorola'. BT also sold this phone with their own logo. Their Motorola 8000X does not have the black and red stripe logo. This was introduced on the 8500X and later.

Dates

The Motorola 8000X was available in the US from 1983 and in the UK from 1985. It seems to have been still on sale in 1988 in the UK and it was relatively cheap by then, selling for 599. By 1990 both the 8000S and 8000X did not appear to be on sale in the UK. The 8500X had taken over.

Motorola serial numbers

The serial numbers on Motorola phones allow you to date the phone quite accurately. This information can be useful to help confirm the identification of the phone.

Serial numbers are of the form 123ABC4567 or 123ABC45678 where the the second 2 letters determine the year and month of manufacture. The second letter gives the year.

As far as these phones are concerned the important numbers are:

LetterYear
H1983
J1984
K1985
L1986
M1987
LetterYear
N1988
O1989
P1990
Q1991
R1992

Ebay sales of Motorola 8000X

DateValueComments
6/9/2009460BT Logo
17/9/2009605Motorola logo black/tan
11/10/20091036Sale not completed/Item relisted
21/10/20091054Located in Austria
21/10/20091358DynaTAC Prototype IV

Our view on values

By March 1986 there were over 50,000 mobile phone users in the UK. Whilst a large proportion of these may have owned bulky transportables, rather than hand held phones, there must still be thousands of Motorola 8000Xs out there. More than enough to keep most collectors happy.

After the appearance of the Daily Mail article - Hello, I'm on the brick!, two Motorola 8000Xs appeared on eBay within a week. My guess is there are more out there and the price will go down.

Note: this a new collecting area, so if you have any other tips about identification please add to the comments section. Or if you believe any of this information to be inaccurate, please let me know.

Whilst I have done my best to make this information as accurate as possible, Retrowow cannot accept any liability for any losses incurred from using the information provided in this article. Mobile phones are a very new collecting area and not all of the relevant facts may be known at this time.

Your comments on the Motorola 8000X

"Hi, The Fourways theatre group in High Wycombe is staging an American 1980's play in which mobile phones feature. We can't afford to buy the real thing but we have a skilled model maker who is prepared to build a number of them with remotely controlled ringing. I'd be very grateful if you could send me some approximate dimensions of a Motorola 8000X as a starting point. The rest we can approximate from pictures. Many thanks, " Steve Curtis

They are about 8 inches high, without the aerial. The aerial can be another 3 to 6 inches. They are 1.75 inches wide and 3.25 inches deep. If you want something that looks like the real thing, the 8500x is very similar and sells for about 30 to 50 on ebay. Follow I hope this helps. Retrowow

"hi just bought a working 8700x from ebay just wonderd weather it will still work on old system or can i install new sim in an adapter and will it work." steven hunter

Hi Steven, I'm not familiar with the 8700x, but I'm guessing you have brick style phone. Are your sure it isn't and 8500X, 8800X or 8900X?

The only Motorola brick phones that work on the GSM system are the 3200 and 3300. In the UK the analogue system was turned off several years ago. In the US I believe some of the analogue services still exist, but I don't know the details. As yet I'm not aware of a system that allows you to use analogue phones with GSM. However, you never know, if there is enough interest in early mobiles someone might invent one. Retrowow

"sorry its the 8900x 2 it is in perfect order, some great memorys of the 90's. do they have a sim inside somewere" steven hunter

Hi Steven, Sorry as far as I know the 8900x was an analogue phone. It does not accept SIM cards. If you want a brick phone that accepts SIM cards the only options are the Motorola 3200 or 3300. Retrowow

"hi i have the 89000x-2 i have pressed the lock button and i cant get it off lol, can anyone please help" Jay

"Hi,
I have a Motorola 8000x that I am interested in getting rid of. Anybody interested, or know what I should ask for this?" Adam 05/12/2011
"i have a motorola 3300 with charger and 3 batterys all in working order i want to sell it but dont know where or the value can anyone help me." kelly grove 09/03/2012
"Hi Kelly,
eBay is the best place to sell mobile phones. Have a look at the eBay price guide on http://www.mobilephonehistory.co.uk/lists/price_guide.php

I would expect to get at least £100 for a good one.

best regards" Steven 09/03/2012
"I would like to know how one would access the lock and unlock feature of these Motorola 8000 series phone. Is there a PDF available of these phones that I could get?" Jeff Baker 27/03/2012
"I really enjoyed this article but had trouble following what you were saying about serial numbers. In your example umber (123ABC4567) which letter represents the year, A, B, or C? I have two phones I think are 8000s models 472GSLT659 and 472GSE8536 both in Canada." Marek 16/05/2012
"Hi Marek, The second letter gives the year. However, the first of your numbers has 4 letters which doesn't conform to the pattern and the second suggests 1993 which seems very late for an 8000S." Steven Braggs 16/05/2012
"Hi
I am looking to buy a bunch of these 8000 series phones X, S or M if they're at a reasonable price so please buzz me an email if any of you still have one to sell.
Thanks
Paul

paul.cooper1970 @ hotmail.com (remove the spaces!)" Paul 24/06/2012
"Hi,

I just purchased a DynaTAC 8000s and the serial number is 645CNE1788. The N shows that it was made in 1988 but what part of the code shows what month it was made? Just curious.

Also, many of these phones either don't power up or when they do they don't display anything. Is there any way to fix these so they at least power up and make the sounds or show something on the screen?

Thanks,
Mike" Mike 28/06/2012
"The third letter gives the month. The E means the second half or March.

As far as fixing phones that don't power up, are you sure the battery is holding a charge? That would be the first thing I'd check. Otherwise I'd be struggling. Most of the ones I've had don't work. But you can't use them anyway." Steven 28/06/2012
"can't tell year of my bricks. 389GUE0283 and 0289

Both say "Loc'd" when power on. One line of led's---maybe bigger than the one shown on phone on website. Any way to unlock without knowing the 3-digit code? Thanks." Brian 03/04/2013
"Hi Brian,
The U would date them to 1994. Do you know what the model is? I don't think it could be an 8000X. Best regards" Steve 04/04/2013
"From distant memory, the 8000 range could be reprogrammed and the unlock code noted/changed when in the programme mode. To get into the programming mode, remove battery and aerial, with a thin piece of fuse wire, ball the end up slightly and using a piece of sellotape, stick the balled up end to the top right terminal (as you look at the phone from the rear) and then refit the battery leaving an inch or so of wire protruding. Earth out the other end of the wire to the aerial screw and turn the phone on. Providing you have a good conection at both ends of the wire, the phone will enter the programming mode. This is where my emory fails slightly as I think you use the # button to scroll through the programme. You can change the network here (i think 2340 was Vodafone and 2342 was cellnet) but what you are looking for is a 3 digit number. Thats your unlock code. You can change it or just memorise it. Would like your comments on this. Sgd001athotmaildotcom.
Steve" Steve 24/06/2013
"Used to repair 8000X's and 8000'S in the 80's
Steve, you need a NAM programmer to get the unlock code from the 8000 series.
These are rarer than the phones as they were limited to approved Motorola service stations. Did see one for sale recently, but missed it.
If you have an 8000S and no unlock code you can't get it out of the phone. On the 8000X, if you know the security code you can re-programme the lock code from the keypad.

As for units not powering up, this can be a few things. As I used to repair them and still have the service manual it should not be much of a challenge. Obviously, the battery should be assumed to be useless after 20 years." Philip 18/07/2013
"I have just bought a 8000x unit - its a really lovely piece of kit. Does not power on. Does anyone have a tear down or a PDF manual? I would love to get this thing working.
Or is there a repair firm anyone knows of?" James 22/08/2013
"Hi. I have a Dynatac 8000X that was made in 1989 & sold here in Australia. However, it has a green color LED dot matrix display. This particular version was definately called the 8000X according to my service manual.
Also, the original 8000X did not actually go on sale in the US until 1984. It was first announced in 1983. Motorola car phones were only available in 1983, such as the Dynatac 4000." Chris Lumsden 14/03/2014
"Does anyone know the value of my motorola 8000x with charger and leather case." Paul byworth 09/06/2014
"These aren't worth what they used to be. The leather case and charger won't add much to the value as they can be picked up quite cheaply. I would say £300 to £500. best regards" Steven 10/06/2014
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Retrowow

Your guide to vintage and retro