Before WhatsApp or Facebook messenger even existed, people loved SMS messages, or more familiarly text messages. In fact, the short message service is a Finnish invention. Matti Makkonen introduced his idea already in 1984, but his vision of “text talk” was declined at first. He did not let that bring him down and nearly ten years later in 1992, first text message “Merry Christmas!”, was sent from computer. Few years later, Nokia launched the first text message phone and the rest is history.
In 2008, Matti Makkonen received The Economist Innovation Award in the computing and telecommunications category for the work he made for SMS. Still, his attitude towards the invention was extremely Finnish – humble. He disliked when people called him an inventor of text messages and preferred to be called the one of the first people who understood the demand for the service.
Even though texting was a convenient way to stay in touch, there were a few pitfalls. Sent and received messages were on separate folders which led to extra clicking if you forgot what you had texted earlier, not to mention extremely limited storage space. After a dozen of messages, you had to carefully evaluate which messages were important enough to keep.
The struggle was real when optimizing the message usage, too. One text message could have a maximum of 140 characters and if you went over the limit, you had to pay for two messages. It was usual to shorten words and re-write the messages before sending. Moreover, there was no emojis, so people got creative and created smileys with colons, clauses, and characters. Sweet, huh :3
Forefather of smartphone
Smartphone generation might think that old phones were just dumb bricks used for calling. However, this was not the case. Maybe you could not take or send any pictures, but there was something cooler instead – logos and icons! Especially youngsters ordered these pixeled pictures via text message to decorate their phone screens. You could browse the options from the back of a printed magazine to find the fanciest one. The down side was that it was not possible to save icons. Once you ordered new one, the old one vanished into thin air.
The phone offered entertainment as well. Snake 2 was a classic and if you got through Space Impact, your street credibility increased immediately. One popular activity was to listen to the ring tones, which may not have been too entertaining for people around you. There were only few ringtones out of which Nokia Tune was, and probably still is, the ultimate hit. The well-known melody is in fact a part of a music piece Gran Vals. The Spanish classical guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega wrote the artwork already in 1902. Little did he know that nearly 100 year later the song would make everyone reach for their phones.
Nokia 6 – Smartphone 1
Life without a smartphone might sound ascetic, but the brick had some unbeatable features. The battery life was extremely long compared to smartphones. Weekend at the cottage without electricity – no problem! Nokia served you through the weekend without interruptions.
In general, communicating was more relaxed because you could not see when someone had “been online” or if the other person had read your message. “I haven’t read or I did not notice your text” was completely legit reason not to answer. A good way to avoid arguments!
In addition, the old phones were extremely durable. The most legendary phone must be Nokia 3310, a phone that would “survive from a nuclear missile”, which made the golden age of Nokia. The cell did not mind if you dropped it to pavement or dip it into a toilet. Nokia phone has even been recorded to survive a week inside a fish. No wonder the internet is full of memes and videos inspired by Nokia 3310!
Memories grow sweeter with time but you cannot deny that the world has changed. Life without smartphone would be like living on a deserted island. Social media and internet is crucial part of people’s daily communication and the good old 3310 has fallen behind in development and so did the age of Nokia.
But there are plenty of other successful Finnish companies out-there! Check out the Top 5 most innovative start-ups from Finland!