Ina Fried

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At Nokia, a Stroll Down Cellular Memory Lane

While most of my time in Espoo, Finland, was focused on learning about what’s coming next from Nokia, I took a little bit of time to revisit a bit of cellular history.

In the center of its grand Nokia House headquarters, the company has a showcase for some of its long-ago devices, with many more showcased in the Nokia Lounge, a swanky conference room used to meet with important visitors.

All the greatest hits (and a few of the misses) are there.

Phones of all shapes and sizes are featured, from the nearly suitcase-sized 1982 Mobira Senator to the first Communicator smartphone, among the earliest to flip open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. There are phones with circular keypads, phones with square keypads, and a few devices with no keypads at all.

Even the ill-fated N-Gage gaming devices are there.

While there is much to admire about the modern smartphone, the Nokia collection is a reminder that physical hardware design has gotten a lot more uniform — and, quite frankly, boring — compared to some of the wacky designs from days gone by.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus