questionsthe cell phone was invented 40 years ago today…


I remember in the late 90's/early 2000s when cellphones were getting smaller and smaller. Everyone talked about how our cellphones would be the size of a pen or a credit card in the future. They couldn't have been more wrong! Now most phones are bigger than what Martin Cooper used in 1973. I always laugh when I see these people talking on something as big as their face that they can barely use with one hand.

I was born in the dawn of the modern digital age, so there's no way that I could ever figure out how it has or hasn't changed my life. I may not even be around if it wasn't for the cell phone.


i can now be bothered by anyone that has my cell# at (almost) any time. huzzah?

i bought my first cell phone in 1996. mainly because i had to have a pager when i worked for a private ambulance service and i got tired of having to find a pay phone whenever i wasn't home and got beeped. i definitely take breaks from my cell phone though. at night, it stays downstairs in the family room. anyone important enough to call me at 2am has our home phone#.


DH HATES his cell phone! Well, he was ok with cell phones in general until smart phones came out. He is in outside sales and now that he can get emails while on the road, he is annoyed that people can email him and expect an answer ASAP. Of course, he's sort of a Luddite, anyway. What sucks for me is that he always gets the newest and best technology for work, while I piddle along with an iPhone 3.

One thing that cell phones have made easier is going in multiple cars on a road trip. For some reason my family seems to do this quite often. I have not-so-fond memories of losing the person I'm following, or being the group leader and pulling off the road to wait for the others to catch up.

Of course, my favorite use of my smart phone is the ability to PRETEND to be doing something meaningful while playing a game during boring meetings.


Best use of a smart phone = wooting when on the road!


My friend and I got cell phones when we got separated during a trip and I had all the papers with me and he didn't know which hotel to find me at. I had to have him paged at the airport so we could reconnect. We were about the last people on Earth to get them, because we'd already seen what a socially destructive force they were with our friends, who are physically incapable of ignoring the things' siren calls. Like a spoiled baby, if it makes a noise it must be picked up and it's needs seen to regardless of what else is going on. And our friends who have plugged their brains into these little boxes are entirely oblivious to their own rudeness, disconnectedness, and the real world in general. Get the idea I don't like the things? I do think they have done more harm than good.


All mobile communication has made people into sheep. Common sense is no longer common and we are plagued by idiots.

Now get off my lawn!

Seriously though, mobile communication has saved many lives and allows us to reach people at anytime, almost anywhere. Who would have thought. Whether or not that is used for good or bad is up to each individual user.

Personal note: I still like the no-cellphone-at-the-table rule. Just like growing up, we'd unplug the phone on the wall before we all sat down and enjoyed dinner and each others company.


Are you sure his invention was a cell phone?

It clearly was a mobile phone but technically a cell phone uses a cellular network. That is a network of towers that allow you to travel while talking and the protocols used will allow you to leave the area of one tower while entering another tower's area and the call being routed without you being aware of it. The first cell network was in Japan in 1979.

One of the benefits of me selling real cell phones in the 80's and working for AT&T in the 90's :)


@eraten: I recall an SNL skit from way back (I think it was a Gap skit with Will Ferrell) where the store manager comes up and takes a call on a super tiny cell phone. I completely agree. Who'd have known back then how the direction would change?!

I am one of those looking forward to my next cell phone with an even bigger screen! Yeehah!


@drjing: I'm wondering if the next major upgrade will involve an implant. Hmmm. Well, not so sure I would like that, but I would kind of like a communicator button like they have on Star Trek: TNG.


Our lives would be much different if people would figure out that a cell phone could be turned off/muted.


While I think that cell phones are amazing inventions and have probably saved many lives and much hassle, I think that there have been some serious issues caused by them. The biggest thing that I've noticed over the years as cell phones have become more ubiquitous is that people seem to be losing the ability to plan. It's now rare to arrange to meet someone somewhere specific. For instance, this weekend I met some friends to carpool to an event. We arranged to meet outside of a local restaurant (in a strip shopping mall). I arrived early and sat on a bench in front of the restaurant. They arrived on time but were almost ten minutes late picking me up because they were parked on the side the restaurant and neither of us had each other's cell phone numbers (I have one but don't use it much so I rarely give out the number). I didn't understand why they didn't either specify where in relation to the restaurant they would be or drive around a bit.


My spouse and I have seven year old Moto Razr 3 phones. Sooner or later we'll have to upgrade, but while we both lust for a smart phone neither of us has real need for one nor wants to pay for one. The only times we turn a cell phone on are when one of us is away from the house (and one is at home) or when we're on vacation; I doubt more than 10 people even have our phone numbers. I truly can't imagine being at the beck and call of anyone who wants to talk to me at any time they choose. The entire concept of "always accessible" gives me the shudders.

I'm aware of the good things cell phones have wrought, especially in times of crisis and emergencies, but I have zero interest in ceding my own high need for privacy to anyone else.


@drjing: What changed the trend was when cell phones stopped being phones and started being everything. Video player, music player, game player, book, typewriter, internet connection, GPS, map, lost item locator, private detective, calendar, watch, calculator, alarm clock, flashlight, camera, video recorder, documentarian, sleep aid, language translator, stream of consciousness, electronic banker, personal memory and IQ storage, etc. On a recent Colbert Report a doctor was showing all these medical tests you can perform with one. You need a big enough screen to actually see it if you are going to cram your whole life into a handheld device. My friends who seem to need their cell phone as life support devices spend very little time using them as an actual phone. I turn my phone off at the theater on Fridays and sometimes forget to turn it back on till the middle of the next week, and most of my friends find that inconceivable. They can't go five minutes without checking theirs.


It's made being anti-social socially acceptable


@moondrake: Hear, hear!

Unfortunately (or maybe not), I'm one of the people excited about a single device to help manage all aspects of my life. "One thing to rule them all." Yeah, I think that is what Tolkein really meant!


Off topic, but this question now has 17 upvotes and 16 responses in a day yet hasn't gone "popular", but one from yesterday has 9 upvotes, 1 response and became "popular" in about 5 hours. Is there a definition of "popular" that I'm unaware of?


@robingraves: Sometimes I think the selection process here is less like Darwin, more like Bingo.


I believe most woot problems this week may be related to Spring Break.
ANYway, this was just brought up, as a part of a cultural shift.

Because of Kalifornia's ruling that pedestrians are sacrosanct, 1:3 traffic fatalities are pedestrian related. And because the vehicle's driver is considered guilty until proven otherwise, hit and runs have skyrocketed.

Cell phone usage attributes keep getting repeated- if you're using a cell phone, you are as if intoxicated. You cannot react properly with the world around you, and you suffer great lapses of attention that are considered dangerous. 1:4 traffic accidents occur when at least one driver is on their phone.

Because of both of these, we have a Darwinian experiment in effect. Oblivious lemming like pedestrians, many of whom are on their phone, wandering around the streets while a major percentage of drivers are also on the phone.
Maybe there's an app for that.


@gidgaf: There's an app they are promoting at the movie theaters that shuts off texting while driving. I have no idea how it works, though. I'd like to believe that we still have enough self-direction to do it ourselves, and not to have to cede even the decision when not to use the phone to the phone.


@moondrake: I'm thinking it's more like darts.


I just have one more method of ignoring people who think they have the right to bother me @ any time of day or night.

I actually gave up my Verizon acct. for 4 years after moving to rural MT where service was horrible @ best. I finally got a Tracfone mostly for emergencies when some more towers went up. Now I am paying ~ $80/yr. as opposed to ~ $800 w/Verizon.


@moondrake: If I could explain popularity, or really understood it, I would have had an entirely different high school experience!


Back to the original question :)

I grew up and into adulthood without cells. We'd take road trips across the desert without any way to call for help if our cars broke down. (yeah, kids, uphill both ways in the snow). As a mother and grandmother, I can't begin to express how glad I am that we have that one thing less to worry about, about our loved ones.


I got a phone early on b/c at the time it was cheaper than landlines for long distance calls.
Now, it has evened out. Time to rethink my plan.
I do think they are wonderful devices for safety.

fwiw: The many features of a smart phone are suppose to save time. I think they are time wasters. Not going there.
I have a plain flip phone.


The cell phone was invented 40 years ago today. How has it changed our lives?

It has made my commute to work more dangerous than pre-cell phone days.

Hang up and frickin drive people!


Two words: imbecile cord

I just recently bought my first "smart" phone - I resisted for so long and was the butt end of ridicule by family members for NOT having one...

I am so happy they were $$$ out of reach when I was in High School from 1991-1994, if we had camera phones back then.... :-O