When we baby-boomers were still in grade school and watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, the Sunday morning papers carried an interesting comic strip, Dick Tracy. One of the most interesting “gadgets” the fictional cop used in fighting crime was his telecommunicating wrist watch. Later in the ’60s, the next look into the future came via Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. At the time, very few people realized a handheld “telecommunicator” would become a reality much sooner than the turn of the century. And let’s not forget the spy who saved the world by talking over his “shoe phone,” Agent 86, Maxwell Smart.
Today’s digital cell phones are truly remarkable. In past decades, few realized the role cell phones would come to play in the modern day world. History credits Dr. Martin Cooper of the Motorola Corporation with making the first analog mobile phone call on a prototype device in 1973. It is hard to imagine wireless phones having been around for so long.
NASA and the space program played an instrumental role in developing the hardware and software used in today’s communications industry. “Because we could” basically explained how and why we developed the technology allowing us to talk without wires. Later, with the many advances in other areas of computing technology, we began to see things in our telephones our grandparents, and indeed even our parents, never could have imagined.
Today, modern cell phones are simply amazing. Some business owners actually run their entire companies from their cell phones. Physicians and nurses are able to connect directly to the mainframe of their hospital’s computerized medical records. Airline pilots are able to perform complex aircraft performance problems on their company issued smart phones.
The phones we use today bear little resemblance to anything Alexander Graham Bell contemplated in 1876 when he uttered his famous sentence, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Indeed, even later in his life he probably had no idea of the magnitude of what we would perfect his telephone into after they became “cell phones,” and later “smart phones.”
These new smart phones really are much more than mere telephones. They are in fact miniature hand held computers. They have become learning tools on college campuses and professional necessities in the business world, stretching from news reporting to business management.
Not only have cell phones affected the business world significantly, they have also made their way into our social lives as well. We now “twitter,” we can keep track of our friends on Facebook, and the bachelor’s infamous “little black book” is now contained electronically in his telephone. Which also, by the way, automatically dials the number of his choice.
Twelve years ago when I first started dating my wife, the first question she put to me was, “So, what is your cell phone number?”
“I don’ have no stinkin’ cell phone number!” I answered in my best Steve Martin-Mexican imitation. I went on to tell her I did not believe in cell phones. I did not want to be a slave to a digital device. And I certainly did not want work calling me in on my time off.
She listened very politely and then kind of said, “Uh-huh,” the way women do when they know they are right, but are dealing with the male of the species.
I had my new cell phone within two days.
© 2010 J. Clark