A Pocketful of Progress

A Retrospective Look at the Machines Found in our Smartphones 

Even in his wildest dreams, Alexander Graham Bell could never have imagined that almost 150 years later, people all over the world would be carrying his invention in their pockets. Yet, today, our smartphones are so much more than telephones. In fact, most people rarely even make “old-fashioned” phone calls, eschewing them all together to text or Facetime.

Smartphones have changed our society and culture in so many ways that it’s hard to imagine a world without them. However, that world existed not so long ago. Today, our smartphone is our office computer, our home entertainment system, our camera, our bank, our map, our library, and much more. It is astonishing to contemplate, but this pocket-sized computer has, in the span of 15 years, become an indispensable part of the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

A Pocketful of Progress seeks to demonstrate the evolution of technology with an exhibition of a wide range of machines from the last 150 years, many of which were built right here in Syracuse, that have been necessary to complete the myriad tasks now done on our smartphones. The impressive array of machines in this exhibit offer a stark juxtaposition to the incredible technological tool you carry every day in your purse or in your pocket. We hope you enjoy the exhibition, housed, coincidentally, in a building built by the Bell Telephone Company. Just imagine what Mr. Bell would think!

A Pocketful of Progress will be on display in the Murray-Sayles Gallery at the Onondaga Historical Museum in downtown Syracuse until September of 2023.

A special thank you to Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli for helping to make this exhibit possible.