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Nokia 9000 Communicator - World's First Smart Phone (1996) ?

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monroe    51

This is interesting ... I had never heard of it till today, maybe someone here at MSFN actually had one or actually saw one.

The Gadget We Miss: The Nokia 9000 Communicator

Nokia’s first Smartphone was a ground-breaking gadget for the traveller.


The evolution of the modern smartphone is a complex business, with numerous extinct species that never quite made it. Some of these were just plain odd, and others were just before their time. The Nokia 9000 Communicator was one of these, a cell phone that was a smartphone before the word was invented. It rolled all of the features of a computer into a phone, putting email, web browsing, fax, word processing and spreadsheets into a single pocketable device. And it did it years before Blackberry became the iconic symbol of the mobile professional.

Launched in 1996, the Nokia 9000 Communicator showed a company at the peak of its design powers: the Communicator was a mobile powerhouse, with 8MB of memory and a 33MHz processor. This combination ran Nokia’s own GEOS operating system (a predecessor to the Symbian OS used on later models), combined with a suite of business programs that could read and edit Microsoft Office files from a desktop PC. Inside the clamshell style case was a chiclet QWERTY keyboard, complete with function keys for the major features and a series of programmable buttons by the screen. This screen was a black and white LCD, with a then-high resolution of 640 x 200 pixels. This long, thin screen meant that it could offer a first: a graphical web browser on a mobile device.

Previous phones had offered only text web browsing, but the 9000 Communicator could render graphics in all their monochrome glory and connect to the Internet over the built-in 9600 bits per second GSM modem, which worked with the new digital GSM phone networks that were being rolled out across the world. However, this was before the days of always-on connections: to get your email, you had to connect to the mobile network, rather like dialing up on a land line, but without the noises. The US model was launched in 1997 (the Nokia 9000i Communicator), running on the GSM 1900 frequency offered by carriers like Microcell in Canada.

All of these features added bulk, though: the 9000 Communicator was over 1.5 inches thick and weighed a hefty 14oz (397 grams). Compare that with a contemporary phone like the Motorola StarTAC that weighed just 3.1 ounces, and which was half an inch thick.

The screen was also not very easy to see in sunlight, with the low-contrast LCD screen getting blasted out by even moderate sun.

But the real problem was the price. It cost at least $800 in the USA, and about £1000 in the UK. That price scared off many users, as did the bulk and complexity of the device. To be successful, the technology had to wait several years to get smaller, sleeker and to be easier to use. Former Nokia CEO Jorma Ollia told the Wall Street Journal that “we had exactly the right view of what it was all about… We were about five years ahead.”

... more info and pictures at the link.

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jaclaz    943

Sure, It was a really nice little thingy.

But the article is right, the price at the time was the show stopper.

I never owned one, but I remember having used some other people's ones, and they - with all due respect :) - were very little beyond a "nice, technology edge, gadget".

The actual "switch" in both usability and "usefulness" (besides processor and OS) came a few years later, with the 9210:



Just like the Ericsonn 380:


was in comparable times.

The first "real things" (comparable to the 9210) were the P800 and P900:



And yes, I still own a P910i :yes::


which I use normally :thumbup:.


Edited by jaclaz

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monroe    51

OK ... interesting information and links that you provided. I guess I am amazed that an early cell phone had all these "extras" in 1996 ... I didn't get interested in cell phones till about 2002 / 2003 timeframe. My current cell phone I got in Aug 2004 and it's still works great ... able to connect my notebook into it with USB.

"And yes, I still own a P910i" - you still have it in service or just as a collector's item?

Reminds me when I read a few years back how a small notebook computer of today has so much more processing power in the small size compared to what the Apollo spacecraft had at the time. I think much of the space used on the Apollo was for the computers since they were so much larger back then.

Edited by duffy98

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ROTS    5

I am tired of these terms.

A phone in general is any device that can dail into the "sub-systems" ( whatever it is called, correct me" ) and make phone calls. Like take Apples blue box that allows phone calls to anywhere in the world.

All you need is a program, that allows you to dail numbers. That is basically every PPC. However the PPC is probably restricted to certian kinds of signals???????, and wave functions. So imagined a suped up PPC that is able to dail into the standard phone service. Otherwise this would be useless nowadays thanks to the "New World Order" we are lviing in.

A Gameboy is probably the worlds first smart phone. You can use it for just about everything you can possibly think of, all you need is the right add-ons and right code. You could probably even take your blood sugar with it. A GBASP even looks like a cell phone.

I understand most people here might be wireless buffs, but right now I would point to a PSP being a reasonable SPhone. From my understanding it has touch screen editions, and sports a built in mike ( unless I am misaken ). I can't really imagine how people use

thieir SP for anything else but talking. SPhone internet service has no privacy on it.


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