Yesterday. a short exchange on Twitter got me thinking of all the mobiles I’ve had in the last decade and how technology has moved on.
So I cast my mind back to 1997 when I got my first mobile and was really interesting, in a totally geeky way, having a part of my tech life under scrutiny. From the gloriously cheap and nasty original Motorola to two beautifully made Siemens models to the first full touchscreen operated phone in the world, to my beloved Nokia E71 which is impossible to replace, despite it’s old age. I do wonder what do those phones say about me and about priorities at the time.
The first one (Motorola d520) could barely text and make the odd phonecall the last one is always online checking for emails and updating my Twitpics and Twitter status. My first UK mobile, the awful Philips was only turned on maybe for a couple of hours a day and still have the fondest recollection of the bugle that announced every text message, my only immediate connection to my sister back in Athens. The very idea of texting across national borders was simply thrilling, bordering on the magical. As my circumstances changed and became more technologically aware the phone became much more useful and all the more necessary for day to day activities.
The buldging mass of the second Motorola phone (cd930) was a true work horse and a way to assert my identity with its lurid blue metallic colour! The Siemens SL45 was the first phone to have a fully fledged mp3 player and it also featured a beautiful aluminium case and a rather peculiar yellow backlight that made it rather appealing to me. Remember all too clearly saving money to buy it as it was at the time a very expensive handset, being part of Siemens’ business offering.
Clearly I must have been a very happy customer as I moved on to my first colour screen mobile which was the Siemens S65, a totally beautiful device with a glossy black plastic and metal construction. This was also my first camera phone with an amazing for the time 1.3MP sensor ;-). I fondly remember the joystic that made navigating around its stiffly Germanic menu system a doddle.
The Samsung was a hand me down from my housemate at the time and the start of my brief love of the clamshell form factor. Which culminated with a Motorola Razr V3 in black, which was at the time one of the most stunning and technically advanced devices. So much so that Motorola was producing it for over five years. That handset was the first one that I really modified. I flashed out the firmware (making me feel like a proper geek in the process) and the moment I gave it to a friend, it was a UK device that was running Sprint software (as that actually allowed you to make videos, unlike the UK version).
Then came the LG Prada, the first fully touchscreen operated phone in the world (a full 6 months before the first iPhone, a fact not that often acknowledged). Interestingly it was very stylish and despite its lovely colour screen, the default theme was black and white, an interesting win of design wilfulness over logic and technological possibility.
That gave way to Nokia’s flagship E71, which is still my current phone (it was first released in the spring of 2008) it’s beautifully responsive full qwerty keyboard is the stuff of legends and its Finnish construction is all metal and near indestructible.
Looking back I can see how I was swayed by passing technological fads and how sometimes I was open minded to be an early adopter. Two of the companies have even stopped making phones (Siemens and Philips). In just over a decade the mobile became from an optional extra to the device we wouldn’t leave the house without. I do wonder if I remade this list in 2020, what it may possibly look like.
Dear reader, hope this has not bored you stiff and of course feel free to add any phone/tech related reminiscences in the comments section below. Mobile devices have had such a catalytic role in our everyday life that I think the above inventory of mine seems at the same time obsessive and a form of autobiography. Cathartic and yet frivolous.