Episode 004: Throw Back Thursday – First Cellphone

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So it is the fourth episode of my podcast and the first Throw Back Thursday. I had a couple of options that I thought about sharing but, I decided to kick this feature off with a look at the first cell phone I ever owned.

Ericsson GH197

I cannot recall the exact year… I know I must have been over 14 because I bought the phone with my own money, heavily influenced in the choice of the phone by a friend who had the same thing. It was bought from a used electronics store and was the Ericsson GH197.

The phone itself had been released (based on my research) in 1993. I can still recall getting an MTN Pay As You Go starter pack and making a call to my dad – with excitement – the moment the SIM card was active.

The truth is, the phone was a brick, even at the time I had bought it used, there were better phones out there. It was simply was a large box with a rubber antennae that flipped up from the side of the phone.

The reason for getting it was because I spent a lot of time cycling back then and was also working part time. So I reasoned it was good in case of an emergency. It also allowed my father to call me when he was close to fetching me from work (there were no rules back then about not talking on your phone while driving) and lastly, I also thought I was cool to have a phone.

Durability like a Brick

I recall having taken the phone on a cycle with my friend on one occasion to his house. Close to his place the phone unclipped from my belt and went into the back wheel of the bike. Unlike today’s glass laden smartphones, this Ericsson GH194 looked fine, I think it bent a spoke on my bike though.

Apart from the durability, however, there were some serious limitations to this phone compared to the luxury we enjoy on today’s feature phones yet alone smartphones.

Perhaps the most glaring issue as I look back on images of that phone now is that the screen was basically like a calculator. Granted it had two rows on it but the type of display was not that much different to a calculator. Can you image using for text messaging?

Still, I look back on that phone with fondness now which gets me wondering, what was the first mobile phone you owned?