Just by I.P. Pavlova metro station there is an unusual "museum" - a shop there which sells mobile telephones and paraphernalia has set up a display cataloguing the history of mobiles in this country. Its most prized exhibit is a classic early 1990s "briefcase" phone, which as you can imagine is as big as a briefcase, though considerably heavier at around four kilos.

It's hard to imagine who would have bought such an ungainly contraption, given that the battery lasted a full ten minutes! Apparently motorists who had them installed often returned them after a couple of days - they couldn't start their car because the primitive mobile phone had run down the battery.

The Czech Republic's first mobiles ran on the old NMT network, introduced in September 1991. They were of course rather expensive and almost exclusively for business people. And in any case if you bought one, who would you call? Only 50,000 or so people in the country owned one.

Mobile telephony as we know it began ten years ago this month, with the launch of the Czech Republic's first second-generation GSM network by Eurotel, which is owned by Cesky Telecom (itself now owned by Spain's Telefonica).

Three months later - at the end of September 1996 - customers got their first taste of competition, with the arrival of Paegas (now T-Mobile). The country's third operator Oskar (now Vodafone) was launched in early 2000, and gradually won a decent market share, largely through unusually good advertisements.

One thing that distinguished mobile phone use in the Czech Republic from the beginning was the relative popularity of text messages. I was reading the other day that Vodafone estimates the average Czech customer sends 80 a month. British people apparently send less than half that number of texts.

For some time there have been more mobiles than citizens in the Czech Republic, with saturation reached in eight years, which is apparently relatively quick.

Perhaps confirming their absolute ubiquity was the news this week that postcard sales have been dropping considerably, as people send SMSes and MMS picture messages instead. Postcard makers say their sales are still holding up at Easter and Christmas, when Czechs traditionally send postcards rather than cards which open out.

Christmas is also boom time for mobile operators - last year Czechs sent almost 60 million SMSes on Christmas Eve alone. That's something I doubt even the most optimistic operator could have imagined when modern mobiles were launched here in July 1996.