back to article 15 years ago: the first mass-produced GSM phone

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 …


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  1. Graham Jordan

    I remember my first phone...

    Was a horibble Motorola with one line display, huge antenna, crap battery life, heated your face up to kingdom come after just a minute and only worked in my bedroom. Shit i even remember the number, 0441 196475!!!

    From then on I've been a nokia man through out, god bless the simplicity of the things, easy to use, smart and erm... easy to use.

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  3. Hedley Phillips

    Ah, a phone that is just a phone

    Gone are the days when a phone was just that. A phone.

    I don't need a camera, bluetooth, games, ringtones, etc etc. I want to be able to phone someone, talk and then hang up. Myabe the odd text message every now and again.

    But where is the profit in that? How are they going to sell us new 'stuff' if there aren't new tricks and gadgets for us to buy.

  4. Kenny Millar

    AH yes, the day my life changed

    I used to enjoy the 3.5 hour drive between our HQ in Glasgow, and branch office in Manchester, until the boss gave me a 1011 - then I was getting pestered every few minutes on the drive and I'd usually end up with a sore head all day!

    Now I do have a mobile, but I don't give the number to anyone except my wife and daughter - well, I'm paying the bill therefore the phone is for my convenience, not the convenience of some random person who wants to call me!

  5. Tom Oliva

    And - 15 years later

    The network operators are still not implementing the IMEI fully so there's likely hundreds of thousands of nicked phones still in use on UK networks alone - a phone is still a target for some scrote to stab you in the street rather than a collection of plastic bits n bobs.

    way to go guys!

  6. The Other Steve
    Thumb Up

    Still got one of those

    The 'Orange' branded one circa about 1993 I think, which is slimmer and sleeker, unless you put the long life battery on it.

    Still in good working order, and the only reason I don't still use it is that when you send an SMS you have to input the number manually. Other than that it's a damn good phone. It looks like a phone, it rings like a phone, you make and receive calls on it. That is all. These days the styling passes for retro geek chic. If only it could keep up in the SMS stakes, it would be housing my current SIM.

    On the orange network, it got CLI (and passthrough from BT at that) well before BT introduced it. Great way to spook people out before they all realised what CLI was.

    Ah, those were the days

    Need an icon for 'misty eyed nostalgia' :-)

  7. Andrew Moore
    Thumb Down

    Non-standard SMS???

    well quelle surprise. Nokia not conforming to a standard??? Like their non-standard infrared and non-standard bluetooth....

  8. Damian Webber

    My phone history

    I was a motorbike courier when this phone came out, previously I had what I believe was the first hands free kit in the country. A nokia car phone, black box in the panier, phone mounted on the tank and home wired into a helmet intercom.

    Then came the Motorolla portable, you know the one with a battery the size of car one attached underneath and weighed about 20kg

    Then came the brick which once fell off the bike at 70mph on the M6 and still worked when I retrieved it unlike todays phone which breaks when you look at it funny (or in the case of my current WM5 device breaks when you turn it on!)

    Then this Nokia, which really was the turning point in portable phones, not only do I remember the number I still have it

  9. Stu

    @Hedley Phillips

    One product for you - Motorola F3.

    BTW My first phone was the ye olde chunky Nokia, cant remember the model number but it looks loads like the 5190 I just googled, with the firm rubber keys. Somewhere around the late 90s. Fantastic!

  10. bertie bassett

    Nokia 1st??

    in the UK with GSM??

    At the time I was working in the biz, and I think I recollect that a Motorola 3200 pre-dated the Nokia..certainly the 1st GSM phone we had/touched/played with was a 3200 which would have been in '93.

    Still swapping sims was a pleasure compared to manually reprogramming phone numbers (and ESN's - the forerunner to IMEI's) into phones....

  11. Daniel B.

    GSM in 1992?

    Ow. I know tech takes some time to get here, but 1992? That's like 10+ years of lagging behind!

    TDMA came sometime around 1999, here known as "Digital" because that was the first digital network we got.

    GSM must've come some time around 2002, I bought my first GSM phone in 2003, a Nokia 1100.

    As for my first phone, well that would be an Ericcson ... hm... can't remember the model, but its the one Arnie uses in "Eraser". Small phone for those days (and maybe these days) standards, but it had a big-ass battery that made the phone fat. Of course, my dad's phone (ca. 1994) was a Toshiba TCP-9300; tall & thin. Both phones were infinitely smaller than the brikphones back then. Oh, and I remember my first phone number: 501-0010!!! (Who wouldn't? Too easy to remember ;)

    If someone wants a "phone-only" mobile, look no further than the Motorola F3... that is if you don't mind not having message alerts, reading SMS one *word* at a time or doing well, most of the stuff you're used to. (I think my original Ericcson was much easier to use than the F3, mind you...)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Motorola F3

    "One product for you - Motorola F3."

    Have you actually used one?!

    Ye flippin' gods it's horrible - Motorola really need to sack the chimps who are responsible for the usability (or not) of their phones. The F3 was high on my list until I actually tried one. The mental scars may go. Eventually.

    Nokia 6300 FTW - has a few bells and whistles which I could happily live without, but more importantly it will let you make calls and send text messages without making your jump through fiery hoops or, as was the case with my old XDA, crashing.

  13. Trygve Henriksen

    Got in late...

    in 1995 or 96, when I got a Nokia 2110, which was considered 'the best' at the time(just before it was replaced with the Nokia Banana 7110, and quality went out the window)

    It had the best reception I've ever seen, and when I bought a car-mounted hands-free for it in 1999, the shopkeeper told me that I didn't NEED an external antenna, and to just remove the connector at the bottom of the cradle so that it didn't interfere with the phone's built-in one...

    I once dropped it when fumbling for my office keys(on the third floor). I found the phone at the second floor, and the battery in the basement. except for a few scratches, it was still as good as new.

  14. mahoney

    my first phone

    I can't remember the model number, but it was sometime in the late 90's too.

    It was a grey Nokia, built like a tank. It was big, ugly and clumsy, and I loved it! It was bullet-proof. It survived many falls, (one of them being a 10 foot fall onto pavement) not to mention twice accidentally being submerged in water. When I bought a new phone, I gave it to my mom. She actually used it recently. The only reason she had to replace it was because the ear-piece's volume got progressively quieter over the years, until finally it was too hard to hear anything.

  15. Hein Kruger

    Old phones...

    ...they're still the best.

    My first phone was a Nokia 2110, I didn't like it all that much - too heavy (it was a good self defence weapon on the streets of Johannesburg though). Later I upgraded to a 6110 (not the newer 6110 Navigator) which was quite a nice phone - although the screen went haywire after a few years. The best phone ever made though was the Nokia 3330 - I was rather upset when I lost that one (after more than 4 years of excellent service, it just disappeared one drunken night). Nowadays I use a 3510i which would be a wonderful phone if not for the polyphonic ringtones and annoying orange lights on sides.

  16. Alex

    Man, does that make me feel old...

    You know you are getting old when you find yourself saying something like... 'I don't need a camera, bluetooth, mp3 or any of that rubbish, all i need is a phone'.

    It's funny how you talk about these things as if they are a part of ancient history. I remember when the networks started allowing SMS messaging across networks! That was the first, and last time they added really killer functionality :-)

    And i' not old !

  17. Danny


    The rabbit commercials. That takes me back. I remember some spotty oik (was he from Grange Hill?) that said you can make calls whereever you see the 'rabbit' (sounds trippy now I say it).

    My first 'phone was the Motorola v3688. I seem to remember it was call the v.small and the ads had a tiny baby tortoise crawling on it or something. Still pretty small but not as slim as todays models.

  18. Reginald Perrin

    The Old Sony's

    I started out on an NEC P3 and then went to one of those tiny (at the time) Sony's with the flip down boom mic. I loved the Sony, a fantastic piece of kit that only failed once. I was riding up to Hollyhead from Cambridge to get the late night ferry to Dublin and put it in my tank bag, my magnetic tank bag.

    They warranty replaced it. I then got a non-descript Mitsubishi and a Nokia until I got the mother of all cool phones, the Nokia 8810, what a chrome beauty.

    I didn't want to change that phone. Now I have a BlackBerry and life is just much more interrupted.

  19. Marco

    Take a good look, gentlemen...

    ...that was when a phone was a phone.

  20. Greg Ayres

    @ Mahoney

    I think that sounds like the Nokia 1610. I sold phones at the time and someone had tried to nick one of these off one of our customers. He simply battered the bloke with it.

    I don't think the iPhone has quite the same potential as a weapon!

  21. A J Stiles

    @Tom Oliva

    It matters not about IMEI blocking. The little s#!tbags who steal mobile phones *do not care* that the phones they have stolen are useless to them. It's enough for them to know that you have been deprived of your property.

    While we're reminiscing, my first *digital* mobile was a Nokia 5110, certainly not a bad handset; though I had owned an analogue mobile (branded "People's Phone", who were taken over by Vodafone) since 1995.

  22. Richard Vanags
    Thumb Up

    My first phone.

    It seems like a life time ago. But my first phone was a Nokia Talkman 620. Huge,heavy and crap battery life! But it worked and I almost always had a signal. It was a car phone with a battery stuck to it but I could run my business and keep in touch with others while I was out. But as I was one of the first in my town to own a portable (mobile would be stretching it!) phone, mates would call me from work just to see where I was and it was embassasing to answer a phone in town with people looking at you as if you were weird. I would have got less attention if I walked round naked!

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