Happy Birthday, Nokia -- 150 Years of Making Phones (and Paper and Car Tyres)

By Gary Cutlack on at

Nokia has always, sort of, been in the communications business. It was founded back in 1865, when it began pulping wood that would soon lead to it opening a paper mill. Older readers may remember the letter, a slow communications format that people used to exchange small talk about the weather and their health on pieces of paper, before telephones.

From that paper-making start, the Finnish company would turn into a more industrialised giant, moving to rubber processing in the late 1800s, cable production in the early 1900s and eventually realising that it had everything to hand that one might need to enter the communications world.

Which it did, gradually, in the 1960s, when it began moving into electronics, before hardcore telephony became its core business in the late 1970s. The 1980s was when it launched its first take on the portable telephone that would soon become -- literally -- stuck to the faces of everyone on the world, and then this plastic explosion happened:


The Nokia of the 1990s we all know -- it ruled the mobile phone world for about a decade, until smartphones came along and quickly edged it out of contention, causing it such troubles that the mobile division would be sold to Microsoft.

The 150-year-old Nokia of today is still in rude health, though, so much so that it's currently in the process of buying serious mobile network backend provider Alcatel-Lucent for around £11.2bn, as it moves away from making consumer hardware and back toward its infrastructural making-things past. Not a bad innings. [Nokia]