Qualcomm’s San Diego headquarters includes a museum that is a time capsule of the mobile phone industry. The company, founded in 1985, grew over the decades to develop early satellite communication devices, the CDMA mobile technology protocol that powered 3G phone networks, and more recently the Snapdragon line of processors seen in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23.
The museum is open on weekdays, but requires an appointment in order to visit. So during a recent visit to the headquarters, we took a dive into the museum to see the telecommunications devices of the past on display. You can check out the highlights in the gallery embedded here.
These include the the Omnitracs, an early texting and GPS device built for the trucking industry that used satellite-based technology to allow for communication in remote areas. The museum also shows off the first camera phone — which is a flip phone that uses an attachable external camera to take photos. And the museum shows several exhibits on the development of the CDMA technology, which was recently phased out when Verizon shut down its 3G networks at the end of 2022.
Qualcomm also had a hand in satellite communications for the National Security Agency (NSA), and the museum includes an example of a satellite phone used for the presidential limousine.