Two designs for ringtones i created at Instant Records for a pitch for Sony Mobile (formerly Sony Ericsson). They were doing a web promotion and asked us to create some ringtones they could give away as downloadable goodies. The theme of the promotion and therefore the theme of the ringtones (music) was everything related to undercover agents like James Bond.
Thanks to Mike @ Instant Records for his great wah-wah guitar track!
A ringtone or ring tone is the sound made by a telephone to indicate an incoming call or text message. Not literally a tone nor an actual (bell-like) ring anymore, the term is most often used today to refer to customizable sounds used on mobile phones.
AT&T offered seven different gong combinations for the C type ringer found in the model 500 and 2500 landline telephone sets. These gongs provided distinctive tones for hearing-impaired customers and to make it possible to tell which phone was ringing when several phones were placed closely together. A Bell Chime was also offered, which could be set to chime like a doorbell or to ring like an ordinary phone.
Following a 1975 FCC ruling which permitted third-party devices to be connected to phone lines, manufacturers began to produce accessory telephone ringers which rang with electronic tones or melodies rather than mechanically. People also made their own ringers which used the chip from a musical greeting card to play a melody on the arrival of a call. One such ringer, described in a 1989 book, even features a toy dog which barks and wags its tail when a call arrives. Eventually, electronic telephone ringers became the norm. Some of these ringers produced a single tone, but others produced a sequence of two or three tones or a musical melody.
The first commercial mobile phone with customizable ring tones was the Japanese NTT DoCoMo Digital Mova N103 Hyper by NEC, released in May 1996. It had a few preset songs in MIDI format. In September 1996, IDO, the current au, sold Digital Minimo D319 by Denso. It was the first mobile phone where a user could input an original melody, rather than the preset songs. These phones proved to be popular in Japan: a book published in 1998 providing details about how to customize phones to play snippets of popular songs sold more than 3.5 million copies.
The first downloadable mobile ring tone service was created and delivered in Finland in autumn 1998 when Radiolinja (a Finnish mobile operator now known as Elisa) started their service called Harmonium, invented by Vesa-Matti Pananen. Harmonium contained both tools for individuals to create monophonic ring tones and a mechanism to deliver them over-the-air (OTA) via SMS to a mobile handset. On November 1998, Digitalphone Groupe (SoftBank Mobile) started a similar service in Japan.