Gadget Hall of Fame: Nokia 8100 series

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One of the best things about being a tech fan (other than fawning over shiny, new things) is getting all nostalgic about the classics. 

Whether we loved them for being pioneering, indestructible or just a bit bonkers, our all-time favourite tech titans are the shoulders on which today's gadget giants stand. 

That's why we're opening Stuff's Gadget Hall of Fame, a regularly updated place to get misty-eyed about the best tech we've seen and fondly tinkered with over the years.  

Kicking things off is a real mid-'90s zinger - Nokia's 8100 series, otherwise known as the 'Matrix phone'. With this week's news that Nokia is starting afresh and potentially making smartphones again, it's time to teleport back to 1996 and revisit one of first genuinely lustworthy 'mobile phones'...

The Nokia 8100 story

Famous for its appearance in the Wachowski brothers’ late 1990s cyber-punk techno thriller The Matrix, the stylish 8100 series was distinctive for its crazy banana slider.

Unfortunately, wannabe Keanus were dismayed to discover that the spring-loaded mechanism was actually added specially for the film and didn’t find its way on to a real phone until the 7110 – three years after the launch of the 8100s. 

Still, the 8100 was far from just a flashy movie prop - it had tech that was worthy of its futuristic silver-screen appearance. Aimed at gents in pinstriped suits rather than computer-hacking kung-fu fighters in leather coats, the 8100 was the only Nokia ever to ship with Smart SMS, meaning it could be updated over the air.

It was also ahead of the game with its li-ion battery (as found in today’s phones), so many 8100s are still going strong. The phone came in four versions, depending on your network. The 8146 and 8148 worked with T-Mobile and Virgin SIM cards, while O2 and Vodafone users needed to take the red pill and seek out an original 8110.

It might be one of the most iconic vintage blowers around, but don’t go out and buy a new one thinking it’ll definitely work; these vintage Nokias use a different sized plug, though you can sometimes pick one up cheaply on eBay.

Buy a Nokia 8110 on eBay

Also in 1996...

DJ Shadow: Endtroducing…

The world’s first album created entirely from samples, Shadow’s deep, funky debut took hip-hop on a fascinating journey through soul, jazz, rock and psychedelia – and straight into the record books.

Motorola StarTAC

A good year for mobile innovation, 1996 also saw the birth of the clamshell phone with Motorola’s StarTAC. A big influence on the RAZR range, the StarTAC was also notable for introducing the vibrating alert.

Buy a Motorola StarTAC


Director Danny Boyle took Irvine Welsh’s tale of heroin addiction in mid-'90s Edinburgh and turned it into a cult classic. The infamous toilet scene gave a whole new meaning to “freshening up”.

Rent Boy, Begbie and co will be returning in Trainspotting 2, which started shooting four days ago and will hit cinemas in January 2017.