45 years later, ‘errbody’ has a cell phone

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Do you remember your first cell phone? My wife, Deborah, and I took the plunge into the world of mobile communication decades ago. If memory serves correct, it was in the early to mid 1990’s when we opted at Christmas to share a gift. At that time, the popular devices were those bulky, and pricy, bag phones. The dang thing weighed a couple of pounds and worked about as well as Congress does today.

As a matter of fact, it nearly took a Congressional decree to get someone to answer the thing!

I remember Deborah and I leaving our Ahoskie home on Christmas morning, heading to Roanoke Rapids for our annual holiday get-together with her oldest sister and her family. Knowing that her younger sister and family (also with a new bag phone) were en route to the same destination, we attempted to coordinate our arrival by using these state-of-the-art devices. After repeated attempts, neither of us were able to connect. We both could hear the other’s phone ringing, but no one answered.

Now, nearly 25 years later, “errbody” has a cell phone that works. It weighs way less than a pound and fits in the palm of your hand. And not only can we converse with one another by talking, we can text as well….or even send each other a message on Facebook (at least for now on that social media site that finds itself today in a bit of a mess due to politics).

What got me thinking about all the technological advances we’ve witnessed over cell phones is an email I received last week from my good friend with U.S. Cellular – Melissa McIntyre, who works with that company’s Public Relations department.

After reading the press release, regarding a milestone in the world of cell phones, I realized that my 25 years with such a device pales in comparison with the length of time those handy little things have been around.

Did you know that April 3 marks the 45th anniversary of the first cellphone call? That honor belongs to Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, who stood in midtown Manhattan on April 3, 1973 and placed a phone call to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey from his new innovation.

Now, 45 years later, that one simple phone call is credited with forever changing the way we communicate. Now we can sit in the comfort of our homes, or be en route to a destination in our vehicles, and talk to anyone in the world.

The press release Melissa shared with me contained some very interesting facts about the history of cellphones. Some highlights are:

1984: More than 10 years after Motorola’s DynaTAC cellphone, the first truly portable phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, was created and was made available to consumers, costing nearly $4,000 per device. The device weighed more than two pounds and provided users with 35 minutes of talk time.

1989: The first flip phone was introduced – the Motorola MicroTAC. It was the first pocketsize phone and provided twice the battery life, allowing for more than one hour of talk time.

1992: The first text message (“Merry Christmas”) was sent. Soon after phones were introduced with full QWERTY keyboards, the first of which was the Nokia Communicator 9000 released in the mid-1990’s.

1993: The first “smartphone” was introduced by IBM. The Simon Personal communicator could be used for calls, faxes and text messages. It also featured a built-in calendar, address book, notes folders and appointment scheduler.

2000: Sharp launched the first cellphone with a camera.

2007: Apple’s first iPhone was introduced and boasted an all-in-one digital music player, camera and Internet-enabled PDA device equipped with a touch interface that replaced the traditional QWERTY keyboard.

2008: The first Android phone, the HTC Dream Slider, was made available to consumers.

2010: The first 4G device was introduced in the U.S. The HTC Evo7 offered a larger touchscreen, two cameras, GPS navigation, HDMI output and mobile hotspot capability.

2017: The iPhone X offered the first facial recognition security feature on smartphones.

What’s next? Who knows! As fast as this type of technology advances, what we have today is obsolete tomorrow.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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