Put your hand up if you consider yourself to be one of those people who have had a mobile phone for the longest time. Now keep your hand up if you had the ORIGINAL mobile phone (of my time anyway) – the Motorola m301!!
Oh my goodness, just thinking about it now makes me laugh! It’s so funny the way people cringe when ‘The Brick’, as it is so affectionately known, is mentioned, as though they didn’t carry it proudly on the street, speaking loud enough for everyone to know “I have my own phone!” After all it was the cutting edge of technology, right?!
I personally didn’t have one, but my mum did, and I remember the fascination with it when it first arrived at our house. Even if my brother and I so much as laid a finger on the new phone, it would be, “No you’ll break it!” or “Read the instructions first!” But when you think about it, what was so complicated? Was it the vast choice of ringtones – ‘High’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Low?’ Was it the fact that once you pulled the aerial out, there was a very good chance that it wouldn’t stop flowing and you were in danger of never getting it all back in again? Or maybe it was a health issue – the possibility of permanent muscle strain in whichever arm you held it in. Who knows?
When you compare the Motorola m301 with some of the popular mobile phones that followed, e.g. the Nokia 8210 and 8310, you wouldn’t believe they had the same purpose. The m301 took up half you head, whereas the later phones could get lost in the palm of your hand, if not your inner ear. Even though the Motorola was about 10 times the size of some current phones, they weren’t exactly loaded with features. Going into the heading ‘Menu,’ you could access……. the phone book! Wow…
Mobile phone thefts are higher nowadays than ever, but it’s surprising that it wasn’t higher back then. All the thief would have to do is spot the m301 across the street, stretch out and grab it by the aerial, making sure they had a wheelbarrow ready for their speedy getaway!
A friend of mine recently told me that before the m301, Motorola in fact had another ‘mobile’ known as the Motorola 8500. I know what you’re thinking – that must have been way before your time. Mine too, but apparently if it was more popular it wouldn’t have been nicknames ‘The Brick’, but rather ‘The Boulder’. When I recently saw a photo of it, I actually spluttered with laughter. It was my friend’s dad who owned that phone, and she said that whenever the phone rang in public, she and her brother would run as far away from him as possible, because they were too embarrassed to be associated with him. My my my… how times have changed!
All jokes aside though, it was 16 years ago that my mum first had the Motorola m301, and in that time the mobile phone industry has blown up into a culture of its own, spawning sub-cultures in its wake. Not only are phones just about used to make and receive calls, they are also for music, emails, internet, games, and even to watch movies. It makes me wonder what sort of nicknames we’ll be giving to the current Blackberrys and iPhones in years to come.