In 1979, Nokia entered into a joint venture with leading Scandinavian color TV manufacturer Salora to create Mobira Oy, a radio telephone company. A few years later, Nokia launched the world’s first international cellular system dubbed Nordic Mobile Telephone network, which linked Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. This was followed by the launch of the company’s as well as world’s first car-phone dubbed Mobira Senator, which weighed in at around 10 kg.
In 1984, Nokia acquired Salora and changed the name of its telecommunications unit to Nokia-Mobira Oy. The year also marked the launch of Mobira Talkman, which was advertised as one of the first transportable phones. This means it could be used both in and out of car, although it was still around 5kg.
Three years later, the company introduced its first compact phone called Mobira Cityman 900, which was also the world’s first hand-held mobile telephone. Despite weighing around 800g and carrying a price tag of around $5,456, it sold like hot cakes.
The phone became iconic and was nicknamed “The Gorba” after the then Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev used it to to make a call from Helsinki to Moscow during a press conference in October 1987.
The following year brought a tough phase for the company as it witnessed sharp drop in profits owing to severe price competition in the consumer electronics markets, and its chairman Kari Kairamo committed suicide reportedly due to stress.
The new leadership brought changes, dividing the company into six units: telecommunications, consumer electronics, cables and machinery, data, mobile phones, and basic industries, while divesting other units like flooring, paper, rubber, and ventilation systems. In 1989, Nokia-Mobira Oy became Nokia Mobile Phones.