Phones come and go, but even the Razr is treasured at new Waikiki museum

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you're reading this story, you're probably looking at your phone.

But imagine this for a second: Take away the flat touch screen, then remove the internet connection, the cellular service, add a cord, lose the buttons, and replace them with a rotary dial, then take that away too.

Now stop and think about all those technological advancements that incredibly happened within less than a hundred years.

That visualization of historic human ingenuity is exactly what Dr. John Wollstein wants visitors of his unusual Waikiki attraction to experience.

"They say my mother had one of those, I remember my grandmother had this, but really it's such a short period that everyone remembers a phone their grandmother used to have," Wollstein said, when talking about visitors' reactions to his collection.

The Museum of Telephones of Hawaii opened its doors about two months ago at King's Village on Kaiulani Avenue.

Wollstein has over 2,000 phones in his collection -- many on display at the top floor storefront at the shopping center.

For years Wollstein was the foreign language specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education.

Back in the 80s he saw the chance for his students to communicate directly with schools around the world face to face.

"We wanted to learn a few words and practice them with the actual country," Wollstein explained about the project he created that eventually connected his students to 16 different countries.

It was called the "Luma," which was somewhat like the world's first camera phone.

"It sent a black and white picture over the regular telephone lines and people were fascinated by it," is how Wollstein described his inspiration for the world's first live video phone pin pals. "Now you got color, you've got motion, the Luma is blasé".

Around the same time he developed the program for his students, he began an appreciation for telephones and what he calls the incomprehensible pace of modern technology.

There's no big exhibit signage, fancy displays, docents, or self guided tour headphones. This museum is simple and small, and did we mention free (donations of any amount are encouraged)?

Wollstein wants people to leave with the feeling of, what will happen next?

He summarized it like this: "The fascination of what humans can do when inventing things and absolutely just the incredible pace that happens when people are inventing is mind-boggling."

The Museum of Telephones of Hawaii at King's Village is open noon to around 10:00 p.m. daily. 

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