If Ralph Ching's old mobile phone looks a little familiar, you've been watching too much 80s television.
To mark the closure of Telecom's CDMA network at midnight tonight, the Nelson Mail asked readers to come forward with their stories of mobile phones past.
Many readers could not give an exact date for when they bought their phones, but several said they made their purchases in the early 1990s.
Telecom offered a new Motorola Defy Mini to give to a reader with an old phone, and decided on Mr Ching's vintage Motorola Ultra Sleek 9760 as the winner.
An online search for the phone brings up references to it being used as a prop in 80s police show Miami Vice, with the model state-of-the-art technology at the time.
The retired bulldozer company owner bought the phone more than 20 years ago, for about $1000, to keep in the cab of his machines in case of an emergency, and to communicate with other workers at a distance.
"[Bulldozers] are dangerous things. If you're out there and something happens, you're liable to be stuck on your own," he said.
He ended up using it for about 15 years, until the network it used was shut down.
"It was the best thing that I ever bought."
Although the phone lacked the bells and whistles of today's modern equipment, it could do enough for him and was sturdy enough to take some punishment, he said.
‘The damn thing was indestructible. It's the most bomb-proof thing."
Given the phone's significant heft, he guessed it would have been useful as a weapon as well.
"If somebody came at you, you could defend yourself."
Receiving the new phone was fantastic, as the one he used had keys that were too small for him to use, he said.
"It feels very good, thank you very much. My son-in-law will be very impressed."
It was amazing to look at the technological advances in just 20 years.
"My son keeps saying, ‘you've only just come screaming up to the 20th century, in 100 years you will be caught up."
Other honourable mentions were Nelson man Frosty Goodall, with his Motorola Lifestyle 55872A, Russell Pocock, with his NEC Sportz, and Mavis Tennet, with a "terrifically heavy" Motorola she bought in 1990.
Unlike today's age of ubiquitous mobile technology, early-adopters often bought their phones for use on the family boat or to keep in a car's glovebox in case of emergencies.
Telecom spokeswoman Stephanie Fergusson said the company had announced the closure about a year ago, and she was confident that customer awareness was high.
The closure means CDMA customers will no longer be able to make or receive calls and will need to move to a new network.
Telecom said in February that 300,000 customers used the network at least once in December.
It has said usage has since dropped steeply, but has declined to provide updated numbers.
Phones that use the CDMA network can be distinguished by the fact they do not take Sim cards, or people can call *333 to check.
The last Telecom mobile network to be closed was the TDMA (025) network in 2007.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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