As commonplace as cellphones are today, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time in the 1980’s when this technology was first introduced and the benefits had to be explained. Here’s an old cellphone commercial from Motorola about “the booming industry of cellular radio telephones.” Times sure have changed!
To be fair, there are still people that have a reason for not getting a “car phone,” but they are becoming few and far between. The Pew Research Center released a study in June 2013 showing that 91% of American adults own a cellphone, and 56% of American adults have a smartphone.
The biggest reason for people not having a cellphone isn’t because they’re unconvinced of the technology’s value. Instead, it’s because some rural areas still have spotty-to-no coverage, and having another monthly bill may be out of the question for people with low incomes; although, cellphones have become much more affordable since the 1980’s. Take for example this old Radio Shack commercial from 1987 selling a “totally portable phone at a price we dare the competition to beat” (only $2,495).
“Scenes Like this Are Becoming Commonplace…”
In the 1980’s, it must have been an odd sight to see someone use a cellphone for the first time. The only other scene the average person would be able to equate public cellphone usage to is war movies where soldiers called in air strikes, which probably didn’t help to alleviate people’s Cold War anxieties. We now live in a time where it’s hard to start a conversation with a stranger in public (or even make eye contact) because everyone and their mother are using cellphones.
The development of proper cellphone etiquette has been an interesting. Check out this clip from the 1990’s sitcom “Seinfeld” where Elaine is shamed for using her cellphone to make an important call to a hospital. Apparently it was “faux pas” to check on a friend’s health condition from a cellphone. Now, few people have the option to call a hospital from anything other than a cellphone, seeing as landlines are becoming extinct.
“It Weighs Only 30 Ounces”
That’s almost 2 pounds of technological goodness! The batteries of old cell phones were big enough to jump start a car, and many of the earlier models would require you to carry a signal booster, like in this old Radio Shack commercial. “Finding a phone in a car is not that unusual anymore, except when it leaves the car.”
“As Commonplace as Someone Checking Time on an Electronic Watch”
The irony of cellphones is that they are responsible for pretty much killing the digital watch industry, which was very lucrative in the 1980’s. Every cellphone today comes with an “electronic calculator” app, and you can even build your own apps for smartphones on your smartphone, thus eliminating the need for “programming on an electronic computer.” Humorously, we are now seeing cellphones come full circle as major technology manufacturers are pushing smart watches that use Bluetooth to interact with a user’s smartphone.
“There are only a Few Thousand Cellular Phones in Use Right Now”
The advancement of the cellphone has been a pretty wild ride! Sometimes we at PACE Technical Services feel nostalgic and long for the days of brick phones, but then we remember having to lug around the bag and the ridiculous phone bills, and we instantly become thankful for our handy dandy smartphones.
Do you have fond memories of using old cellphones? Share with us your stories in the comments!