Cell phone technology has been moving forward at break neck speed, and sometimes we may not notice it, but think back to just a few years ago and you can see all the new feature integration and race in the marketplace – a race to “wow” consumers and get them to choose a specific device. But before we talk about the current trends in cell phones and smart phones, let’s discuss the past evolution of these devices.
Since, I had one of the first mobile “cell” phones – I’d like to tell you a quick story to start out this discussion.
My first cell phones were state-of-the-art at the time, but if you saw them today, you’d laugh. One of them I actually kept; a Mitsubishi Transportable. This phone is about the size of a six pack cooler that you might take to your child’s soccer game, and it was quite heavy, as I recall it is well over 10 pounds. This of course included the battery pack to power up to 3 Watt phone.
Remember that Ion-lithium batteries at the time were just coming off the assembly lines and were quite expensive – they did not exist in this size for anything but NASA and military usage. These original cell phones I had were nickel hydride powered, quite an inferior battery technology for modern cell phones.
The Mitsubishi Cell Phone has a strap on it so you can carry it like a purse, and I often felt really stupid carrying it, until of course it rang, and I unzipped the top, pulled out the handset on the phone and began talking. I can recall that everyone stared as if I was a secret CIA agent, was working for MI6, and my name wasn’t Lance, it was really James Bond. You see, at that time not very many people had the cell phones and they were very expensive.
Another one of my first phones was a Audiovox 1000 model, which was quite large and it was mounted in my car, a car phone – cell phone. The box that ran the Cell Phone was mounted under the seat, and there was a cradle that held the headset. The headset had a cord on it just like a phone at home, before the cordless phones that is. Under the seat the box was about 3 1/2 inches high and the size of a laptop with a 17.1 inch screen.
This Cell Phone or car cell phone was wired directly to the battery with a couple of fuses. When I turned on the vehicle, the Cell Phone would automatically turn on. If I turned off the vehicle, I had to leave it on accessory with the key in the right position, unless I left the phone on which by-passed the ignition. When the phone rang and actually honked the horn, which got me into trouble a couple of times when the horn went off while I was driving behind a police car stopped at an intersection. I have a lot of stories to tell you about all those early Why is the fleet management system important? days with the first cell phones, and you may e-mail me if you are ever interested in such experiences.
Folks today take all this for granted, as they don’t realize how cumbersome the original cell phones were, or how stupid they were compared to modern day smart cell phones. Today they give you a free cell phone when you sign up for service – back then you had to pay $1000 for a car cell phone, and as much as a couple hundred dollars to have it installed. It was quite a procedure, if you have a stereo system, and an XM radio put in your car at the same time, that is about how much work it took to do this. Therefore, at today’s labor rates you could easily pay three or $400. That’s definitely something to think about.
If I was talking to someone on the phone while the engine was running, if I turned off the car and moved the key to the accessory position I would dump the phone call, as I cut it out during that transition. However, having a cell phone in my car helped me increase my business. At the time I was only 17 years old – I had an aircraft brokerage firm and aircraft finder’s service and I would work off of fees whenever an aircraft that I represented sold. I also had a small aircraft cleaning service and was able to contact customers from my vehicle on the flight line, and my crews could call me when they were done with the job as they would use the local payphone to call me.