Garbage Collector

The little space of a writer, tinkerer, and a coffee addict

Tech from the past - Motorola M3588

Tech from the past - Motorola M3588
Motorola M3588 - Photo by Seb CC-BY-SA 4.0

Moving to a new home is always the time when you found out some old crap you’ve stored a long time ago.

Let me introduce you one of them : the Motorola M3588. My first mobile phone I’ve had in high school.

Why bragging about a having phone in high school ? We all have one !

Well, that was exactly 22 years ago. Fuck. Anyway.

Back in these old days, we had public phones. Like this one :


In my oldest memories, there was usable with coins, but at the end of the 90’s, this payment has been replaced by unit cards. Such as this :


Actually it was, and still is I think, a big collection material, as much as postal stamps are too because these cards had several illustrated and special editions.

In high school, there was one. And when I needed to call my parents for whatever reasons (finished class early, snow alert, being sick, etc), I could use it. So I’ve had a card with me. But during my first year, they dismantled it. So I needed something… And also because other people in my classroom had a mobile phone and I wanted to be cool too.

Never been, all kids had the almighty Nokia 3210 or 3310 for the most fortunate ones, with the snake game.

So that was how I ended-up with this awesome Motorola M3588 mobile phone.


It was an Itinéris offer, something that doesn’t exist anymore. Itinéris was the mobile brand of the former French telecommunication public company, France Télécom. Something that doesn’t exist anymore too (it became privatised and took the name Orange) unless you would work for them today because they still have a big legacy IT still branded after the former name.

Allow me to take a small derivation. When I’ve subscribed to the home 4G offer while waiting for my new apartment to be connected to the optical fibre network, I’ve took an offer at Orange. While looking at the seller’s computer (I love doing that, you always find fun details), I’ve noticed their internal website was still served by Honestly, I’m not even sure the guy ever knew this era this he looked quite young to me. Funny. For the short story, France Télécom became to disappear in early 2000, branding more product as Orange, for definitely being erased in 2013 after a vote at the company’s assembly acting the group renaming, dropping France Télécom in the name.


The back cover had some paint on it, because I’ve found this phone in a box with some modelling paint. Don’t ask why it was there, I don’t even know myself.


So, this Motorola M3588 was released in 1999. It weights 170g and measures 140 x 50 x 25 millimetres. Its monochromatic non-touch screen had the awesome resolution of 96 x 32 pixels and could display 4 x 12 characters. It was only compatible with GSM 900/1800 band. No Wi-Fi, no Internet. Basically, you could only use it for phone calls and text messages. Which cost a fortune back on this time. The offer I’ve had was pre-paid minutes quota. No subscription, it was too highly priced.


Size comparison with a Samsung Galaxy A34

According to some informations I’ve found on the Web about, it’s powerful Nickel-metal hybrid 700 mAh battery (removable, yep) allowed it to stay alive for 110 hours in stand by. And 230 minutes in conversation. Fun fact : these kind of battery required an initial loading to be able to correctly work. Almost 14 hours for this one, then it could be able to be recharged in 4 hours. No vibration capabilities and only some builtin ringtones.

It was running on… Whatever OS it was, maybe stored inside a ROM with a few kilobits capacity. Basically this system could just handle the phone history, the contact stored on the SIM card you would be able to copy on the internal memory, the SMS, and some settings such as ringtones.

Under the hood (⚠️ electronics porn)

I was curious about what was the specs of the processor running this mobile. To compare it with the Samsung Galaxy A34 I have and its 2.21GHz system. But after dismantling the mobile, I couldn’t find it. I think it was under the electromagnetic shield plates and I didn’t want to destroy the phone. Since it’s a Motorola, it’s very possible the processor to be a Motorola one too, as they manufactured microprocessors too.

I’ve tried to identity the visible components, but keep in mind I have just some basic electronics knowledge.


Motherboard view from the back side.


Motherboard view from the front side, with the digital display and the keys without the rubber pad.


With the soft plastic keyboard.

Below the keys is the battery connector port. A proprietary one, which was the norm back on this time. For a long period, every phone had their own charging port and plug. Until in EU a rule pushed the mini/micro USB as a standard. You see, Apple’s whining about the recent USB-C regulation in EU is based on an old story too. I remember a Samsung dumbphone I’ve had, using an extra flat connector. I was so afraid to break it !


An Intel flash memory, I think it’s a 32 or 64Mbit capacity according to my research. Probably for the local data such as phone call history, SMS, etc.


A Samsung RAM chip, I think it’s a 1Kbit capacity. I suspect the main processor to be below, under the electronic shield.


This ST Microelectronics chip is a 64 Kbit EEPROM according to my research, it must be the one storing the firmware. According the datasheet I’ve found, it could store the data for 40 years !

Below this chip, it’s the SIM connector.

On the right side, it’s a headset connector for the hands free usage.

So, here is some tech from the past. It’s fun to see how much memories a basic item like this can brought back. I wonder what kind of other old crap I way find one day in my boxes.

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