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Words by Mr Matthew Hussey

In 1973, Dr Martin Cooper demonstrated a new electrical gadget that allowed people to make telephone calls to one another without wires, and was small enough to carry with you.

While Dr Cooper's employer, Motorola, was the first company to make a commercially viable mobile phone, it was Nokia's 1987 launch of the Mobira Cityman that really captured the public's imagination. Why? Many put it down to a clever PR stunt in 1989 involving Soviet president Mr Mikhail Gorbachev, when, while on a state visit to Finland, he was handed a Cityman so he could talk to his communications minister back in Moscow.

President Mikhail Gorbachev speaking on a Nokia Mobira Cityman in Helsinki, Finland, October 1989

While phone sales were growing steadily before this moment, sales after the event exploded. In the decades after Mr Gorbachev had a much-photographed chat on his mobile, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to more than 4.6 billion. The Cityman, or "Gorba" as it came to be known, marked the start of our love affair with the portable telephone.

Here, we pay tribute to the models that mattered during this period and look back at some of the changes the advent of the mobile brought with it.

On 3 December 1992, Mr Neil Papworth, an engineer for Anglo-French firm Sema Group sent the first text message to Mr Richard Jarvis wishing him a "Merry Christmas". Since that moment, text messages have become the most widely used mobile data service. According to Pew Research, in 2011 US citizens sent an average of 40 text messages per day. While in 2008, 1.39 billion texts were sent per day in the Philippines.
With the mobile phone's ability to capture film and stills came calls that we are, "all journalists now". The death of Mr Saddam Hussein was caught on camera as were the devastating effects of Japan's tsunami last year. However, not everyone uses their phone in such a constructive manner ? at the other end of the spectrum there were nearly 1.4 million views of "Thriller Cat" on YouTube in just a few days.
When Nokia installed Snake, an arcade game from the 1970s, onto its Symbian devices in 1998, it created a whole new industry. As of last year, Apple has sold nearly two billion games, and has sold more than 200 million units of its iOS devices, making it one of the biggest-selling gaming platforms.
With more smartphones sold last year than PCs, the hand-held devices are driving machine's ability to communicate with us. Apple's Siri software has the ability to not only respond to voice commands but also search the web and your phone, and give you a response within seconds. Technology developed last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab is capable of analysing changes in your phone usage to detect anxiety or flu.
When Apple announced it would allow third parties to create software for its devices, it kick-started a new type of entrepreneurialism, with developers receiving more than $3bn for their apps since 2007. Google on the other hand, while reluctant to announce revenue figures, has sold some 10 billion apps from its Android store. With downloads across the industry expected to hit 44 billion by 2016, that's a whole lot of Angry Birds spin-offs to be played.

And what to sheath your phone in...


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