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25 Years Since Australia's First Mobile Phone

John Sprout-smith

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Australia's first mobile phone was a milestone in our telecommunications history but how did it stack up to today's models?

Twenty-five years ago Telstra brought out Australia’s first mobile phone. It was called the ‘Walkabout’ and its nickname was ‘The Brick’ because it weighed 1kg and was the size of a shoe box! It also cost eager portable phone users $5,200!

It was exciting for people of the eighties to see such amazing technology especially after Michael Douglas had made the concept so totes cool in the movie ‘Wall Street’. Everyone wanted one. It was the hottest accessory you could have to complement your hyper colour shirt. One of its major drawbacks compared with new smartphones, like the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C was its battery and talk time. The Walkabout was stoked to get 20 minutes of talk time and 4-5 hours of standby battery time whereas the new iPhones are harnessing 10 hours of talk time and 250 hours of standby time. That is an enormous improvement in 25 years of technology development.

The early Telstra mobile phone was limited in its features compared with subsequent models. IBM’s Simon smartphone was brought out in 1994 and had the ability to send and receive faxes; it had a pager function and features of a PDA. It even had games in green and black bitmap style and a touch screen. Despite the phone being an incredible advance that blew the hair back of even the most well-gelled mullet hairdo it was still not a patch on the retina display, high-res cameras and 4G internet access our HTC mobile phone users enjoy today.

In 1999 Nokia released the 7110 which was the first mobile phone to include WAP. It did have extremely limited capabilities considering we can now stream new release movies on our Netflix app on our Samsung Galaxy S4. Despite The Brick being unable to even store phone numbers it was a status-symbol for many people. Having one showed that you not only had money, but had a reason to go to iconic places and disturb everyone around you with lame phone call excuses.

Sprout would love to hear the story of your first mobile phone. Jump on to our Sprout Facebook or Twitter and let us know which mobile phone was your first, how old you were when you got it and how excited you were to have one.


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