How old are you? Do you remember a time when people didn’t carry a phone with them everywhere they went? Remember when the idea of a shoe phone was hilarious? No? Here are a few random memories about cellphones in the past.
In the 1980s I had a roommate who sold cellphones for a while. I knew “mobile phone”, but this was the first time I had heard the term “cell phone”. These phones were huge. Most of the time they were built into cars, which had these funky antennae on the roof, but phones my roommate sold were in a briefcase. There were only limited “cells”, so the phones were pretty much useless outside of the city where service was purchased.
I remember looking at a coworker’s Porsche and laughing. This was actually less than ten years ago. The car was from the mid 1980s and had a built in phone and sported a funky antennae. I wondered if the driver still used it. The phone matched the Playboy pendant hanging from the mirror.
When i was in Italy in the mid 1990s everyone carried cell phones. It seemed so odd. Everyone had one, not just rich people or business people. Poor people had them, even “kids”. Little did I know that I’d have one in less than five years.
Even when we all started to carry phones we really didn’t understand them.
I came back into the office 15 minutes after I left. My coworker asked what i was doing. “I forgot to call in my new prescription. I’m going to do it now and hopefully it will be there by the time I pass by the store.” – “That thing in your pocket? That’s a phone. You didn’t need to drive all of the way back here to call…” OK, I had a cell phone for about 3 weeks when this happened.
“Ok, we need to synchronize times so we can meet back. Each group needs someone with a watch. Who wore a watch.? I didn’t.” – “Uhm, do yo have a cell phone?” – “Yes. Why? Will you call me when it’s time to meet?” – “Uhm, no. Your phone, uhm, you know, it has a clock in it…” (This wasn’t me, but two members of a party at an amusement park.)
I remember in 2001 at a party with a large number of adults. One of them got a call from their teenage daughter who was camping behind a friends house. All of the parents of teenagers who were present started to talk about the calls they received. All of those things that were so hard about communication when I was a kid had disappeared. I think this is when I first realized the power of cell phones. Everything had changed.
Phones, of course, evolved and offered more and more. Cameras. Then texting. Then apps and games. Then Internet connection. Finally they became real computers that are always connected to the Internet. They are now portals to the Universe, not phones.
What would Trent back in the 1980s think of these conversations?
Standing in line for a ride at an amusement park: “Hey, look at those black clouds. Think it will rain?” “Looking at my phone I see a thunderstorm on its way. My guess is 30 minutes.” “OK, after this ride lets go have lunch.”
“That happened when you were miles from anything? Really?” “Yep, I got a video of it on my phone. 10,000 people have seen it on YouTube.”
“Can you give me directions?” “Is your phone broken or something? I gave you the address, you know…”
“They sent you a check? How medieval.” “Oh, it’s fine. It takes me half a second to deposit it on my phone. There, all done.”
In my opinion, cell phones and smart phones have changed the day to day life of ordinary people even more than traditional computers.
I hope you enjoyed this little look at our primitive past ;)