My very first cellular phone was a Nokia 5110 that I got when I moved to Athens my freshman year of college. I signed a modest contract with SunCom (an AT&T “partner”) because they were the only cellular provider in the area at the time. Cell phones were still a novelty, and the road between metro Atlanta and Dawgtown was still considered “roaming” territory, but I needed a phone so the family could stay in touch. The phone was a freebie, and came with a UGA faceplate.
I remember–not long after I got my phone–it fell from my pocket on one of the campus buses. I suppose that people were more honest back then because I called the number, someone answered and explained that he found it under a set. I thanked him and arranged to meet so that he could return it. Try that with an iPhone or high-end Samsung today and you’re simply out of luck!
I spent a lot of time on that phone, so much so that I blew through the allotted minutes and ran up hundreds of dollars in overages (which began my long-standing distrust of Big Telco and hatred of AT&T in particular). Even now, I smile a little hearing that plinky rendition of “Revile” in my mind’s ear, looking for a winsome young lass’s name to pop up on the dot matrix screen. There was that one time that I forgot to turn it off during class, too. My TA had a policy that she was to answer any phones that rang (a policy that could probably be useful in today’s environment as well). Grinning, I handed her my phone, she answered politely, and gave me the message: “Call O* when you get out of class, she would like to do something tonight.” The adolescent “ooooh” from the class was reminiscent of a Saved By The Bell episode and certainly lacked the embarrassment that it intended. That was a fun evening, too!
I kept that Nokia for several years until I upgraded to an LG Chocolate: smaller, polyphonic, MP3 and Internet-capable. Thus began my love affair and push for cheaper, more capable mobile phones. Sometimes, though, despite all the options and the fact that I literally have the collected knowledge of humanity stored in my pocket, I just miss playing “Snake” or “Mastermind” on that tiny dot-matrix screen.
*The name is redacted to protect her embarrassment.