Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nokia 5110

The Nokia 5110 was the first cellphone I saw up front. I was fresh out of college in my first job. One day my manager met with a cellphone sales agent in the office and bought this phone. At that time, I think, cellphones were bought by appointment. One didn't just walk into the shop and buy one. It was a more elaborate transaction. At that time in Bangalore, there were two main cellphone operators - Spice and JTM. And on all the billboards this one cellphone held pride of place. There were other models too, but this was by far the most popular. To a large extent because of (comparatively) attractive pricing.

The call rates would burn through the turban of any raja. Both incoming and outgoing calls were charged. And at 5 to 10 times of present day rates. So it was common to see people with cellphones who wouldn't receive an incoming call. Rather, they'd call back from the nearest landphone. So it was more like a pager. Even text messages cost the moon. And only someone extravagant enough to have a cellphone would possess the means of originating a text message. Two other acquaintances that bought this cellphone around that time were my project lead at work and a roommate. Both were the cynosure of all eyes.

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