2.1. Cell Phone Use

I was first introduced to a mobile telephone when I was in college in the early 1970s. My father, back home in Philadelphia, was stuck in traffic and late for an appointment. All the cars near him were completely stopped. He looked around and saw that the person in the car next to him was chatting away on a telephone. My father got out of his car and asked that person if it was possible for him to make a call to a nearby town. The guy said, "Sure—I've been talking to another state." My father, who owned a small printing company and used a station wagon for deliveries, thought, "What a good idea—I'll order one of these, which will be useful in the heavy traffic downtown where I do most of the deliveries. It will be worth it because the delivery person won't have to keep asking customers to borrow use of their phone to see if there are any changes before returning to the shop." He told the family about this and announced that he had signed up for service but that there was a long waiting list. With this early technology, there were just a few "cells" in a city, so there was a limit to how many phones could be active at once, and mobile phones were therefore limited in number.[] It sounded so futuristic.

[] The name changed from "mobile phones" to "cell phones" when the technology improved to take advantage of multiple, closer transmitters.

Eventually, my father's name came up, and he had a mobile phone installed in the car. It had a big box in the back near the ...

Get Bricklin on Technology now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.