27 May 2005

The 1987 Nokia Cityman - Yup, Yup, Yup...

Overheard in a pub, c. 1987...

Two yuppies, one male, one female, were discussing pets. The male yuppie had a Nokia Cityman or similar on the table in front of him.

Male yuppie: "I love my tortoise. A friend since childhood."

Female yuppie: "Oh, I prefer cats to tortoises, James."

She eyed his brick, longingly.

"Of course, what I REALLY need is a cell phone..."

NMT, the world's first international cellular mobile telephone network, had opened in Scandinavia in 1981. In 1987, the Nokia Mobira Cityman, the world's first NMT hand portable, and Nokia's very first hand held mobile phone, was launched.

"Yuppie toys! What do they want mobile phones for? Ridiculous! Haven't they ever heard of phone boxes?!"
A Nokia Cityman in its box, which had a small plastic handle so, if desired, phone and charger could easily be carried around together.
Above the cover to the Nokia Mobira Cityman instruction manual - the 1988 edition. Note the yellow, red and grey design - reflecting the 1980s trend for contrasting bright and dull colours. Below, selected pages from the manual.

The Mobira Senator, Nokia's first mobile, a not-actually-terribly-mobile car phone, was released in 1982. I'm not sure when (or if) it first appeared in England. 

It was around 1987 that I first set eyes on a hand held mobile phone. Initially, I was most impressed - amazing - imagine being able to phone people wherever you might be! This went on for a year or so, then I decided they looked rather like walkie talkies, and, judging by the number of yuppies stalking out of the pub with their bricks because the reception was lousy inside, they didn't seem that great.

So my fascination faded.

Mobiles later shrank, went digital, became dirt cheap and all singing, all dancing, but I still don't have one. I like to be away from the phone when I'm out, there's no need for me to have a mobile, so I don't.

Having been left behind, I still find myself thinking of them as "yuppie toys" at times! That's what we called them in the late 1980s.

For all its sophisticated appeal back in 1987, the Nokia Cityman was basically a clonking great brick. So when did mobile phones start to shrink? See here for more...

For captures from a 1988 television advertisement for Eagle Star investment plans, starring

Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder) and the Nokia Cityman see here. 

Go back to the unveiling of the first commercially available hand held mobile phone EVER here.


PS Milton said...

Amazing! The height of sophistication in 1987? Flipping heck. And yet it was all groundbreaking.

Anonymous said...

I used to have one of these, never without a signal but often without any charge as the battery standby was something silly like 8 hours