Feeds

15 years ago: the first mass-produced GSM phone

Happy Birthday, Nokia 1011 (almost)

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Forgotten Tech Fifteen years ago tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen, Nokia launched the world's first commercially available GSM digital phone, the Nokia 1011, the model number coming from the launch date: 10 November 1992.

Nokia 1011
Nokia's 1011: GSM first

The 475g 1011 was rather heavier than today's slimline models. A lot of the weight came from the unit's nickel-cadmium rechargeable battery, which yielded a low - by today's standards - talk time of just 90 minutes. It could stay operational for 12 hours in stand-by mode.

The 195 x 60 x 45mm handset could hold 99 phone numbers and the names of their owners, any of which could be displayed on the 1011's two-line screen. There was no colour, no camera, no Bluetooth, no memory card slot and the handset had to have an extendible antenna. But it did introduce one innovation that phone owners now use without a second thought: text messaging.

However, the 1011 lacked that crucial component of all modern Nokia's: the infamous Nokia ringtone. This jingle wasn't introduced until 1994.

The 1011 wasn't the first GSM phone, either. That honour goes to the unnamed handset Nokia developed for Finland's Radiolinja network in 1991. The Finnish phone giant also supplied testing handsets that year for Hutchison's Orange in the UK, then in the process of building its network up from the Rabbit service launched a few years previously.

Nokia 1011
Advertisment from Germany, circa 1993

GSM

Development work on GSM - originally Groupe Spécial Mobile, later anglicised to Global System for Mobile communications - began ten years before the introduction of the Nokia 1011, in 1982. Five years, later 13 European nations agreed to mandate its use for their digital cellular networks.

The first version of the standard - dubbed 'Phase 1' - was completed in 1990, paving the way for the completion of the Radiolinja network, which had been initiated a year earlier, in 1989, and became operational in 1991.

However, unlike its predecessors, the 1011 was the first GSM phone to go into mass production. It operated in the 900MHz band, which had been adopted by UK networks Vodafone and Cellnet - now O2. Orange's phones operated in the 1800MHz band.

For all three, GPRS data services were way off in the future. Orange didn't launch its digital service commercially until 1994, the same year that Cellnet launched a digital network alongside its analogue service.

Nokia replaced the 1011 in 1994 with the 2100.

More Forgotten Tech...
Compact Disc: 25 years old today
From 1981: the World's first UMPC
The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today
Apple's first handheld: the Newton MessagePad
Atari's Portfolio: the world's first palmtop
'Timna' - Intel's first system-on-a-chip
BeOS: the Mac OS X might-have-been
Sony's first Mylo

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause
'Outernet' project proposes satellite-fuelled 'Lantern' WiFi library for remote areas
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.