25-year retrospective of Nokia's Communicator, the first pocket computer phone that worked

I reel at the knowledge that the Nokia Communicator is 25 years old. The 1996 gadget was the first that combined cellphone, built-in keyboard and a solid set of apps without being bigger than a cellphone—half a decade before the first BlackBerry of any consequence.

The phone had 8 MB of memory and a 33MHz processor. The screen was a black and white LCD, with a then-high resolution of 640×200 pixels. The long, thin screen meant it could offer a first: a graphical web browser on a mobile device. If you wanted to check your mail or open a web page, you had to literally wait about 30 seconds for the phone to go online before content — mostly text — would even start loading at a speed of 9.6 kbps. 

The 9000 Communicator was over 3.5 centimeters thick and weighed 397 grams (14 ounces). A contemporary phone like the Motorola StarTAC weighs abouit 75% less and is 1.5 cm thick. By comparison, IBM's Simon weighed half a kilo, had only 1 MB of storage space and lasted about one hour without a power outlet..

I remember the Communicator and I remember the guy who had one, always showing it off. There are a few dinking around on eBay for a hundred bucks or so, if you're curious.