Before Pocket Rockets Were Tiny
One of the world’s telecom R&D powerhouses, NTT DoCoMo, has released a fascinating report reviewing the advances in cell phone technologies that enable today’s tiny, portable pocket rockets to surf the Web, transmit multimedia mail, and play sophisticated games. In 1985, the first Japanese mobile phone that could be used away from a car battery supply was called the “Shoulder Phone” and weighed in at about 3 kilograms.
Last month, NTT DoCoMo published a report analysing the technical developments that have contributed to cell phones becoming increasingly smaller, more compact, and yet feature-rich.
As a case in point, the report mentions the company’s newest third-generation FOMA 900i-series handsets, which have the same weight, size, and battery stand-by time as previous FOMA models but provide increased iAppli Java processing capacity, a higher-resolution camera, and other features making them far more attractive to the phone-buying public.
Exactly how small have modern cell phones become?
The report relates an anecdote about a meeting of company engineers some 9 years ago. Brainstorming on how small future phones should be, the engineers each took out whatever they had in their pockets — pens, chewing gum packs, combs, wallets, train passes, and cigarette lighters — and lined them up on a desk. The smallest, most familiar item was thought to be a metallic Zippo lighter, and the engineers thought this was the target they should aim for.
A cigarette lighter-size mock-up was subsequently built; only problem was, in 1995, there were no technologies that would enable such a small phone to have a color LCD display, mobile data functions like i-mode, nor any other features that consumers, at least in Japan, now take for granted. All that a small, circa-1995 phone could do was make voice calls and use a tiny monochrome display to indicate call status.
— Daniel Scuka