Let’s remember a time before smart phones. In fact lets go a little further back and remember a time when mobile phones weren’t that common and pagers were still a valid form of getting in touch with someone.
Let’s take a look to at my first ever Pocket PC: The Philips Nino. It ran windows CE and had enough memory to do almost nothing but the bare-bone basics. It had a calendar that could only sync with Outlook (because we had no other options back then). Its contact list was only good to you if you could somehow get to a REAL phone. And its internet capabilities were limited to whether you had the attachable modem and an extra phone line with you (I still remember feeling like a bad ass back in 1998 and being able to check my email from the university commons by hooking up my device to the phone jack behind the main desk).
But despite its limits I had a lot of fun with it. I discovered the voice command features in case you wanted to call someone. Call someone? On that thing? Well, not exactly. When you could get the primitive voice command to work, the Nino would beep off a series of pulses and tones, that when held to an analogue phone’s mouthpiece, would signal off the number you wanted to dial.
It was totally impractical and the amount of times I had to try to actually get this to work would have made dialling with my fingers the easier choice. But, dammit, it was too cool and I HAD to do it!
Ah, the Nino. Maybe it’s just me but there’s a charm to these older devices that required some form of computer know-how to get these things to work. Sure it was more complicated and frustrating at times, but I loved geeking out over that thing and discovering new things I could do with it.