Hear the name “Nokia” today and you likely think of phones, perhaps the iconic little blue candy bar style Nokia 1100 (the best selling cellphone in history) and the equally iconic little Grande Valse (or Nokia Tune) ringtone that’s still heard nearly 1.8 billion times a day around the world.
But long before they became involved in electronics in the 1960s, telecommunications in the 1970s, and released their first cellphone in the 1980s, they were focused on a much more pedestrian pursuit. A quite literally pedestrian pursuit that is: rubber boots.
The corporation that would later morph into Nokia, a global telecommunications firm famous for durable phones and catchy ringtones, was originally involved in a diverse number of markets. The first enterprise they undertook was wood milling and pulping. They later branched out into rubber through the acquisition of Finnish Rubber Works. At the start of the 20th century, Nokia was the primary producer of rubber boots and galoshes in Finland and enjoyed a healthy competition against Russian imports.
In fact Nokia retained the rubber production portion of its corporate portfolio well into the 1980s (when it was spun off into a separate company) and the boot and galoshes division was further spun off and revitalized in 1990 as Nokian Footwear; a century after their introduction you can still buy Nokia branded rubber boots.