Mobiles Phones - Then And Now

By: Matthew Woodward

Over the past 25 years, we have seen vast improvements in the technology that surrounds us. Many people take what we have available to us for granted, for example when was the last time you got up from your sofa to change the TV channel?

One of the most useful applications of technology is communication, gone are the days of attaching your message to a carrier pigeon. Now we have E-mail, Fax, Instant Messaging, Social networking and of course, the Mobile Phone.

As your reading this it is likely there is at least 1 mobile phone within 10 metres of where you are sitting, you have probably used one today as well. In fact in several countries there are more mobile phones than people including the UK

Today I am going to show you how mobile phones have evolved

The 80s The first generation

Often referred to as the decade of greed reflecting the economic and social climate in the UK and USA. However the 1980s are also considered to be the transition between the industrial and information ages.

Motorola DynaTAC

The first commercially available handheld mobile phone was the Motorola DynaTAC which was approved in 1983.

Weighing in at an outstanding 794 grams and measuring 10 inches tall, the DynaTAC was a true trooper. It had the standard 12 button layout we see on todays mobile phones along with 9 additional keys-

Rcl (Recall), Clr (Clear), Snd (Send), Sto (Store), Fcn (Function), End (End), Pwr (Power), Lock (Lock), Vol (Volume)

Motorola have announced that they will release a 21st anniversary edition of the phone built to the original specification with modern day components.

It did have one advantage though, if someone tried to mug you, you could club them over the head with it and make your get away.

Nokia 100

The first handset from Nokias Original series of handsets was designed especially for the growing consumer market. From the ground up it was designed to be easy to use by mobile phone virgins, a concept that Nokia is renowned for worldwide.

Nokias market research at the time revealed buyers were purchasing handsets for security reasons. Based on this 3 special keys were integrated, the first a red number 9 that was programmed to dial emergency services. The second was represented by an envelope to call voice mail systems and the third could be programmed to user preference.

The handset weighed a mere 340 grams and also included the keyguard system which protected against calls being made accidentally.

The 90s The Second Generation

The 90s marked the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war; it also marked the dot com boom and rise of the internet. Economic growth sat hand in hand with technological development.

Motorola StarTAC

This was the first phone to appear in the flip format. Its generally agreed this was inspired by the original Star Trek communicator; The phone was released in January 1996 and in 2005 PC World Magazine ranked it at number 6 in The 50 Greatest Gadgets Of The Past 50 Years

It was also the first phone to feature the vibrating alert feature dubbed Vibracall, at the time only Motorola handsets could make use of this feature as they held the patent. Back in the day it was also considered the smallest (94 mm x 55 mm x 19 mm) and lightest (94 grams) mobile phone available, it even made cameo appearances in films such as 8mm staring Nicolas Cage.

Nokia 5110

The Nokia 5110 was released to the public in 1998 and very quickly became the most popular mobile phone in the world. It was rugged, had excellent battery life and of course was one of the first phones to feature the game snake.

One of the main features that set the Nokia 5110 apart from the competition was Nokias Express on fascias. For the first time users could customise exactly how their phone looked, people could create custom fascias for their mobile phones allowing them to stand out from the crowd.

Siemens S10

The Siemens S10 was the first to feature a colour screen; it marked a revolution in mobile phone history. It was released to the general public in 1998 and to celebrate/show off their achievement, Siemens included an Easter egg to display a Palm Tree Image.

Although this was the first mobile phone to feature a colour screen, demand for the handset was fairly low. The colours looked washed out and the screens suffered from vertical ghosting. A feature I quite like about the phone, is the ability to assign a colour to a contact in your phonebook, similar to how you can assign colours to files on modern day apple macs.

Nokia 3210

The Nokia 3210 was a massively popular handset, initially launched in 1999. It had a winning combination of cutting edge features. It was the first mobile phone to have an internal antenna and unlike the Nokia 5110, you could replace both the front and back covers of the phone.

For the first time in the mobile phone industry an advertising campaign was launched for the handset aimed predominantly at young people. The inclusion of 3 games, changeable fascias, customisable ringtones and aggressive pricing led to the handsets huge popularity with those aged 15-25.

The 2000s Third Generation

The start of 2000 went down in history with the worlds biggest excuse to get drunk, the new millennium. The 2000s have sparked escalation of social issues from the 90s such as healthcare, human rights, gender equality, homosexuality, body image and terrorism. But what has it done for technology?

Samsung SGH-M100

2000 was the year that re-defined digital convergence, combining multiple devices into one in the name of convenience. Samsung had created an award winning combination of a mobile phone with an integrated MP3 Player.

It had 32MB of integrated memory, and connected to your PC with a parallel interface. Included with the handset was an inline remote allowing complete control of your music, there was also a headset included that doubled up as a personal handsfree.

J-SH04 Sharp

The first commercially available camera phone was released to the Asian market in 2000. The phone boasted a 110,000 pixel camera using an integrated CCD sensor and a glorious 256 colour screen to display your captured moments.

There was also a miniature mobile colour printer available so you could make hard copies of your photos. Its generally thought that the camera phone and mobile printer was inspired by the Purikura photo booths that could be found scattered around Tokyo at the time.

Ericsson T68

Released in time for Christmas 2001, the T68 had the strongest set of features ever seen on a mobile phone and managed to do so in style while remaining lightweight and compact (100 mm x 48 mm x 20 mm 84 grams).

Although not the first phone to feature Bluetooth (this was the Ericsson T36 in 2000) it was the first that penetrated the market and became widespread. It also featured Infrared, GPRS, TriBand, WAP, SMS, Predictive Text, EMS, WAP, Colour screen, Customisable ring tones, Custom wallpapers, Screensavers and a Photo phonebook. This phone set the standards for those to come.

Motorola V3/RAZR

This handset had the power to make the world spin the opposite direction on it axis. It was released into the wild in 2004, and possibly one of the most distinct handsets of all time due to its looks and size. It was initially considered as an exclusive fashion phone.

Like its great granddad the Motorola StarTAC, the V3 managed to make it into PCworlds The 50 Greatest Gadgets Of The Past 50 Years at the number 12 spot.
The handset was just 13mm thick (53 mm x 98 mm x 13 mm) and weighed just 99 grams. In less than a year of its release it was reported that the RAZR V3 was the most popular clamshell handset available, and by July 2006 Motorola had shipped 50 million units.

Nokia N95

The N95 does it all. Gone are the days of carrying a mobile phone, An MP3 Player, A GPS unit in your car, A PDA/Laptop, A video camera or a digital camera. One single device than can do it all was released to the public in March 2007.

The handset packs a 5 megapixel camera with carl zeiss optics, Video recording at 640x480, WiFi, Quad Band, Integrated GPS and an MP3 player. Even though by todays standards it is considered heavy at 120 grams and quite large in size (99x53x20 mm) the handset shot to the number one spot in its first week of release. This was mainly due to the huge amount of anticipation for the handset.

After that, people are left wondering what is next? Is it possible to make a mobile phone any better than this? The answer is yes, and the answer begins with A.

The Future - Fourth Generation

Apple iPhone

Apple are notorious for the way they market their products, they have built up hype over months if not years for this product. They are very secret with what they do, and the public piece patents together to work out Apples new product. In fact, over 200 patents are related to the technology behind the iPhone.

The iPhones features include those of a camera phone, a multimedia player, mobile phone and internet services such as web browsing and E-mail. All of this is controlled by a massive 3.5 inch touchscreen interface. It is available with 8GB or 16GB of storage and apple are trying to capture 1% of the entire mobile phone market within its first year of launch, thats 10 million units.

Already Apple are to release a revised model of the Apple iPhone, the iPhone 3G, currently penned for release mid July. It includes new features such as 3G data transmission and built in GPS allowing you to literally find the nearest hotel, train station, pub no matter where you are.


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