1985 Pocket Cellphone

1985 Pocket Cellphone

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This is a Technophone PC-105. This is the world's  first pocketable mobile telephone from 1985. So   there it is huh? 'I was wondering, I thought it  might have been a bit smaller. But it's, it's,   it does it fit into the pocket at all? Oh yes  indeed. I try and carry it there all the time.'   Imagine being able to carry a phone around in  your pocket. OK, that's not hard to do today.  

But what about in the 1980s? By 1985, Motorola  had released a couple of different models of   the first ever mobile phone. You could carry it  around with you. But it was huge. During that year   a small company in the United Kingdom decided  they could do better. They designed and built   the first phone that could comfortably fit in your  pocket. This is the Technophone PC105. Technophone   had even beaten the Japanese manufacturers to  market. When the first Japanese-made cell phone,   the Mitsubishi Roamer arrived the following year,  the Technophone was still smaller and lighter. This phone design was so successful that  at one point Technophone had a 50% market   share in Europe, and were also strongly  increasing in the United States as well.  

The entire company was eventually bought by Nokia.  Who Incorporated the Technophone design to help   them develop phones going forward. The Technophone  brand then faded into relative obscurity.   But today I want to take this apart and see just  how revolutionary this phone was. I also want to   see if maybe I can power this phone up again. The  first problem I have is, I don't have the charger   for this phone. And there's no way of knowing the  pin out of all these pins on the bottom. But the  

bigger problem is the built-in battery that's been  sitting inside for decades. This is very likely to   be a nickel cadmium battery inside. These are  prone to leaking and destroying Electronics.   What an awesome phone. So it looks like  it's going to have an internal battery that   I'm going to have to have a look at. And I am  really hoping that I can get this to power up.   And it's been locally branded in Australia  by Mobiletronics. On the back it comes with   some instructions on how to do various  functions. The Mobiletronics brand again.

So the first thing I'll do  is I'll get that antenna off.   Attached with a nice SMA connector there. In  fact there's already a crack in the casing here. So I'll get out the mat and we'll have  a closer look at getting this apart. With the four screws on the back  removed, the casing is still not budging.  

Careful examination reveals panels on the front   that are hiding yet more screws. So I think  the key to getting this apart will be removing   some of these front panels to get to some  screws that are not currently visible. And sure enough there's two screws here. The insides are beginning to reveal.  We'll get this bottom panel off as well.

The first awesome part of the day.   So let's see what's under here. Oh that  just falls off. Yep we have an eprom. Wow! I wonder what's on that. Taking off the  bottom panel reveals something astounding,   an eprom with a clear window. It's a 27C256 eprom  with 32 kilobytes of storage. The window on this   chip allows you to shine a UV light down inside.  This is necessary if you want to erase the chip  

to reload some new software into it. This is a  really unexpected find for the inside of a phone.   I'm now incredibly excited to see more. So let's  get these screws out and see what we've got. Carefully now. It's coming apart. Have a look at that, so many  inspection stickers, all hand written.  

And this looks concerning right here.   It looks like there is a Varta backup battery,  and it has leaked. The first thing I can see is   this backup battery here has started leaking.  With some corrosion on the main board itself.  

I really need to get this apart to do some proper  cleaning. I want to separate this back panel. Oh there we go. So this is a module  that looks like it can just unplug.   More handwritten stickers on the back.  See we can do about this battery. I think I should be able to get  this bottom module off as well.   Gee, these are not attached down very strongly. I  guess the casing just holds them all together. OK,  

bottom module is disconnected and it has another  wire linking it somewhere under that battery. Oh that there we go. So what I'll do is I'll loosen these screws  over here, and hopefully that can help me   get the battery disconnected. All right,  let's see if I can get this battery out now  

if it's still stuck. So I think these screws  are actually holding the LCD onto the board. I don't know, what, well all right. So  the board is now at least coming out. There we go, one battery out  of the unit. So there's the two   display controllers, we've got two custom  Technophone chips. Everything is surface mount. I mean that's definitely bridged pins. All right why on Earth are those  pins bridged with solder, very weird.  

So it looks like that keypad can also unplug as  well. And there's more components underneath.   See if I can unplug this, only connected, here   we go. I'm not certain but I don't think those pins were  meant to do that. Did they come unsoldered from   here? And under the keypad we've got a lot more  chips. It's a double-sided surface mount board,  

that's chock-a block on both sides. Damage doesn't  look too bad. But that definitely does need to be   cleaned up. To clean it up I'm going to have  to get this display off, another two screws. Oh that display is certainly starting to  leak a bit, I'll be very careful with that.

I'll do the same on the other  side and just run this underneath. The rubber of this connector  still feels good and spongy. I want to be able to put this back. OK, there we go there we go. I have some white vinegar here to clean  this small corroded area in the corner.  

The acid in the vinegar neutralizes the  chemical corrosion coming from the battery.   I'm going to leave this vinegar on here for  about 20 minutes, so it can do its thing. When the PC105 was released, it cost 2 000  pounds. That's over five thousand pounds in  

today's money. Despite the high cost, there was  a market for these phones. Technophone founder   Niels Martinsson was not only a gifted engineer,  he was also a shrewd businessman. By 1990 he   saw the changes in the marketplace and sold his  company to Nokia. Nokia was so pleased with this  

acquisition they continued to use the Technophone  brand throughout the 1990s. I found these images   of a Technophone branded Nokia 2110 from 1995. the  2110 was a flagship phone for Nokia. It's really   interesting to see one with Technophone branding.  And I find it strange that the Technophone brand   is not as well remembered today. But this was all  before the groundbreaking Nokia 5110 and 6110 that   changed the industry at the end of the 1990s.  'It's the go anywhere phone, use it in the car,   on the street, anywhere. Carry Technophone  and you'll never miss another important call'

I also found this 2006 infographic from Nokia   showing every model they had released  up until that point. Despite not owning   Technophone at the time, Nokia did list the  PC105 and variants as part of their history. 'Very handy for me Malcolm, although it's low  powered the power output is only 0.6 of a watt.   Whereas the transportable and vehicle mounted  models are three watt units. So this sometimes   fades. So if I'm standing still I have to move  around a little and if I'm in a building will I   just move closer to a window, see if that improves  it. OK.' The main battery is also corroding.  

But fortunately the board underneath looks OK.   The vinegar should have done its work by now.  It's important to get all vinegar off the board   after cleaning, as the acidity itself can cause  further problems. Using some isopropyl alcohol   I can give it a good cleaning. A quick clean  of the whole board with isopropyl also helps. This main board is absolutely astounding.  Almost the entire main board is covered   with surface mount components. Surface  mount technology was brand new in 1985.  

Less than 10% of all products used any sort of  surface mount components at the time. So to see   such an early example of this is absolutely  astounding. The board itself has 12 layers   of copper interconnects. The engineering required  to do this is mind-blowing for the time. It's no   wonder Japanese companies were buying these phones  just to tear them down and see how this was done.   A 12 layer double-sided surface mount design  from 1985. With two custom chips on board.  

This thing is a work of art and a piece  of history. I do still need to do some   fixing and those keypad pins that broke off  need to be soldered back onto the keypad. OK, with that all soldered,  time to look at this battery. So this battery looks like  it's in terrible condition.  

It also looks like it was super glued back  together. Not necessarily my favourite glue   for this sort of thing. I really need to get this  apart, so we can see how it's all connected up.   Yeah, these batteries are  not in very good condition. I'm going to go throw these away and I'm  going to wash my hands after touching these. This battery also needs to be re-celled. Since  I don't have any rechargeable double A cells,   I'm going to use these non-rechargeable heavy  duty dry cells. This should be fine because I  

don't have a charger for this phone. So I have  no intention of recharging this battery. At this   stage I just want to see if this works and I can  power it up. Now, because rechargeable double A's   are 1.2 volts each, and these non-rechargeables  are 1.5 volts each, I'll only be using five cells   to keep the voltage level about the same.  And I already have a bank of four connected   together from an old project. So I just need  to add the fifth one and put them in here.

And my dodgy battery setup is done. And it's 7.6 volts. So that should  be enough to turn the phone on.   All right, I'll get it together  and we'll see if this thing works. OK, so display is in the correct position.   That looks alright, gee there's not much  clearance between that screw and those legs. Hopefully just enough. Gently push  it together, come on there we go.

These RF modules also look fascinating.  It looks like they have multiple boards   sandwiched together. But the RF shielding is all  soldered together, so taking them apart will be   difficult. Maybe I'll do that at a later time.  Yeah, that's not quite fitting as well as it was.  

But I want to plug this in, so here it goes. Seems to be OK so far. OK let's turn this on  even though there's no obvious power button. See what happens, and there we go. It's turning on. All  right, fortunately it's already cracked,   so that gives us a bit of room to fit that  incredibly dodgy battery. But the phone is now   working and we have a menu. OK so I'm not going  to be able to make a call because the networks   that supported these phones shut down a decades  ago. And I don't have my own base station to be  

able to run this phone, , yet. Pressing the menu  button brings up a date the 26th of July 1989.   It looks like this is the software version in  the phone, and the version number is A31K-P.   This matches the number that's written on  the sticker that was stuck on the eprom.  

It's possible the software in this phone was  actually upgraded at some point during its life.   I also found an ad for this model, and in it one  of the features is described as having 'upgradable   software, to ensure non-obsolescence the software  of this Technophone can be upgraded at all times'   So I think the reason the eprom is under  this panel is for upgrading the software.   You would take the phone back for a software  upgrade. They would shine an ultraviolet   light onto the eprom to wipe it. And then  because the eprom is soldered into the board,   obviously you plug something in and you program  the eprom in circuit. Looking through the menu   is quite interesting. This is often regarded as  the first menu system in a mobile phone ever.  

This phone has the ability to  store 100 phone numbers and names.   One of the more interesting options in the menu  is Service Mode. and activating it changes the   standby display. The numbers on the left are  constantly changing and this is likely to be   the phone searching different frequency channels,  looking for a base station. And the number next to   it is probably the signal strength. I'm not sure  what the numbers and letters on the right mean.   This is an unusual option to find in a standard  menu in a phone. It's normally the sort of thing  

that would be hidden from view. And when I  find this sort of thing in a phone, it gives   it a kind of engineering prototype feel to it. It  reminds me a lot of the Ericsson GH337, which has   a battery menu that tells you the battery voltage.  Another function in the menu is the lock code. Now   I'm really pleased that this phone isn't locked or  that would have caused a bit of a problem. But if  

you forget the lock code there is a way to reset  it, and that's using a six digit security code.   Now I did try the six digit security code that  had been scratched onto the back of the unit. But   it wasn't correct. I did however find this user  manual for the Audiovox PC100. This is basically   a re-badged and restyled Technophone. The user  menu was helpful, but not much that I couldn't   work out on my own. I kept searching until I found  this text file with some very useful clues about  

this phone. This text file would have been traded  by phreakers on bulletin board systems in the 80s   and 90s. Until it was uploaded to one of the many  repositories of early hacking text files on the   internet. This text file is very useful because  it describes how to get the security code for this   phone. First get the electronic serial number,  which is usually in hexadecimal and then convert  

it to decimal. Get the last six digits of the  security code and then rearrange them according   to this pattern. Then take that six digit number  and subtract it from 999 999. The remaining six   digit number is the specific security code for  this phone. The rest of this text file describes   how to access The NAM module in this phone, or  Number Assignment Module. Hash 583 991 hash hash,  

nine five three seven three nine hash. shift store 99. Enter, done. Yeah lock handset,  shift, lock, power back up. There we go! This is the area of the phone where  you program network specific details. Such as the   phone number of the phone. Another interesting  number is the Overload Class. This allowed you   to set the priority level of each phone. For  example, emergency services would often have  

phones with a higher Overload Class, and if  the base station you were near was taking too   many calls and were full. A higher Overload Class  number would give your phone priority over making   calls over other phones on the base station. While  playing around with this phone, I found some other   interesting details. For example some of the  data in The NAM module seems to be corrupted,   and some of the options show lowercase characters.  Nothing in the menu system allows you to normally   access these lowercase characters. Yet here  they are in the ROM. There's also some special  

characters appearing as well. Including what  looks to be a Japanese character right here.   This really makes me want to read the eprom out  of this phone and have a look at the software.   Though I have no idea what CPU this runs on,  and the CPU is likely to be embedded inside   one of those two custom chips inside the phone. I  also spotted on the other side of the board from  

the eprom is this SRAM chip. This phone has two  kilobytes of RAM for its working memory storage.   As well as the 32 kilobytes of eprom for its main  software storage. This phone is almost like a neat   little 8-bit computer. And the liquid crystal  display is very large for a phone at the time.  

In fact it remained as one of the largest displays  you could get on a phone for at least the next 10   years. Though when it came time to trying the  backlight, I found that was rather hopeless.   There are six green LEDs, three at the  top and three at the bottom. Yet they   provide no illumination and you just can't  see the screen at all. I'm not really sure  

what's going on there. But despite that, I  do love these old liquid crystal displays.   With their monochrome displays, and their  beautiful fat pixel matrix characters. This   phone is a sight to behold and a really amazing  piece of technology from the mid-1980s. I want   to thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed  this as much as I did exploring this phone.   These videos take a long time to make, any  support you can give really helps this channel.   Even just a like and a share can go a long  way. But if you just want to watch and enjoy,  

then thank you! Because that's what really matters  and I look forward to seeing you in the next one. Any   Technophone eprom hackers out there  wanting to share eprom images?

2022-11-20 21:12

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