An adult life…is a slowly emerging design, with shifting components, occasional dramatic disruptions, and fresh creative arrangements. ~Jill Ker Conway
I thought this story was Christmas appropriate, since many people will be giving and receiving electronics. Just the other day, a few friends of mine were talking about cell phones, and the now obsolete pagers.
For those who remember that once common device, pagers could only receive phone numbers or a string of numbers. It worked like this. You had to call a pager number from a phone, and enter the number for the person to use a phone and call you back. Communication was laborious, but they were very popular. I never had an interest in them.
Now, we all know what our cell phones mean to us, and the services offered such as text messaging, the internet, email and so on. Even though they’re taken for granted, cell phones are an integral part of our lives, and most would agree, we couldn’t function without them. Unfortunately, I too am one those individuals. Even children have cell phones, and they live by them! Scary! Kyle’s certainly addicted his and the video games he plays them on. They’re wonderful inventions for emergencies, shopping, running a business and such, but cell phones have also created an unnecessary reliance on said devices. Perhaps this topic is up for later discussion.
What many people don’t know, mostly the younger generation, or many have forgotten, are the stages society went through to get to this point of cell phone design and coverage. Do I? Not to date myself, but I completely remember the stages of my cell phone over the past twenty years!
Surprisingly, I was one of the first in the area to have a cell phone. True! Those were the days when public phones were still prominent on every street corner, and in restaurants and bars, and used frequently. The old days when everyone carried a quarter in case they needed to make an emergency call. I’ve had a cell phone since 1995, when I was still a teenager, and my sister was in college, and my brother in high school. Can you believe I’ve had the same phone number for more than two decades? Obviously, not the same phone.
To really put this into perspective, I’ll recap. I had a cell phone when it was still analog, before digital cells phones and services existed. My phone has always had the area code 412, because the entire Pittsburgh and surrounding areas were the same. The days before our area code changed to 724. In fact, during the transition, when someone from my area would call me or I them, I was charged a long distance call because it was a different area code, even if they were calling from a mile away. It was explained to me that the cell signal needed to go to Pittsburgh to be send back. Consequently, when I called true long distance calls with the area code 412, it wasn’t considered a long distance call. During this transition many people changed their phone numbers to decrease their phone bill. I did not. I figured I had my number for the past three years, and I wasn’t going to change. I knew the billing coverage would adjust as time passed, which it did. Today, I have unlimited calling and texting anywhere in the United States. Again, times have changed. My cell is also a hot spot for internet service.
I still remember picking my phone number. Yep. The basic crux of the story is, I got in trouble for not calling home, so mom thought she’d stick it to me, by making me get a cell phone. I was also told I had to pay for it. I complied, even though I didn’t want to be bothered. Little did I know, just how much I was going to rely on the mobile device. At the time, pagers were more popular. However, in my eyes, if I was going to pay for something, I’d rather be able to send and receive calls, as opposed to relying on a pay phone. Plus, the idea of me carrying change was never a guarantee.
Mom went with me to Westmoreland Mall, to the cell phone store, which I think was a Bell Atlantic. Not being thrilled with this new expense, I selected a basic brick style phone. The only options were the brick phone or a clunky flip phone. I preferred the simple sleek design, even though it was basically a portable phone, just not as thick.
Now time to pick the phone number. I don’t how anyone else received their phone number, but I was given a piece of paper, listing numbers to peruse. Seriously? Yep. The numbers were typed on a simple unassuming sheet of paper.
Think about it, when filling out information for job applications and such, there wasn’t even an option to add cell or mobile phone numbers. Nope. It was home or work. I remember, I solely used my cell phone, a very uncommon practice back then. Who knew I was before my time.
Would you believe my phone didn’t have text messaging capabilities, for it didn’t even exist yet. It didn’t have email service, not that I had an email address. It didn’t have internet coverage, and forget about games and apps, no such thing, yet. Smartphones didn’t exist until about 2007 with Apple’s iPhone 1.o, and then later came the app store, and soon after the full internet usage and data coverage options.
Right before digital service was introduced to the area, I had to get a new phone to adapt to the new technology. That Christmas, I also purchased Nicole the same phone, her very first cell phone. That was probably around 1998 or so. By then, I saw the value and I understood the importance of the electronic device. By this point, all my friends had my phone number and called me whenever, knowing I was going to be the one answering. By then I started to become reliant on my cell phone, heavily.
Not long after, I had to purchase a new cell phone to accept text messaging, which was very much in its infancy stages, but growing in popularity. I also had to pay for the additional service, unlike my unlimited option of today.
Eventually, I came up to speed with the smartphone craze, and turned Kyle into a cell phone machine, to never look back. It’s crazy talking about my first cell phone and its capabilities, compared to today. Anyone else remember their very first cell phone?
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!