The Nokia Communicator

Did you know that there was a mobile phone available in the late ‘90s that gave you the internet, email and a full keyboard? For most of us, accessing the internet on your phone is now part of everyday life, but it was almost like witchcraft back in 1999. The Nokia 9110 Communicator was way ahead of its time, but a lot of its features would take years to catch on.

The first thing you noticed was that this phone opened up to give you a keyboard and screen.

After you were blown away by this amazing design though, you were then left scratching your head wondering how you were going to use it. Even when you compare it to the 'plus' sized phones we see today, this was huge and it dwarfed anything around at the time. It actually resembled the walkie-talkie like devices that spearheaded the mobile revolution earlier that decade.

The problem with this phone was that in the late '90s, people expected small, compact devices that simply let you speak, text a form of shorthand and play snake on a monochrome screen.

Although the internet connectivity sounds like the result of time travel, it was really basic. It was also very slow and when images finally appeared on the screen, they were black and white and blocky. It was also extremely complicated to set up and I don't think my email ever worked properly. 

When you did get this device up and running the best you could though, it was seriously impressive and the design alone made it an amazing device. It was something else to be able to type up documents using the QWERY keyboard.

Nokia Communicator

From the fold-in antenna to the classic Nokia curves, this one looked like a luxury item. The Nokia Communicator was the ultimate mobile phone in its day and it was amazing when you used it.

Although smaller, colour models appeared several years later, they were also a bit too far ahead of the game. I personally see this as something that paved the way for the Blackberry, but even work mobiles weren't really a thing back then. It's also interesting that this seems to be the furthest thing from current mobile design as well.

I think it's safe to say that this was an incredibly ambitious device that appeared way too early. I loved it though and I have some great memories.

Image: Nokia-9110-2 by Oldmobil licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0