Monday, December 29, 2008

Cell Phones

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to do a “blog post” on Cell Phones. They’re ubiquitous! omnipresent! Everybody has one! Don’t they?

Of course - don’t you?

Just mentioning those 2 words (cell phones) brings picture memories of at least 10 various sized, colored, enclosed, loud, large, small and assorted telephones - portable ones, actually.

I’ve been trying to remember what prompted me - in about 1983 - to arrange for a mobile phone in the WEEC car I was driving back then. I MAY recall by the time I finish this post, but for the life of me (as we say), I can’t come up with it. Oh……….I just remembered. I had a CB radio (with another one in the office) that I used, to give the Secretary a chance to get me if I was needed. I spent a lot of time in the car.

The problem was that sometimes I would drive beyond the range of the CB radio, and I couldn’t be reached. Then, I had to find a pay phone and “call in”.

I sometimes found a pay phone even when I could be reached by CB - if there was some personal or private information I needed to share, or be told.

Back in 1974, I was driving near Cedarville OH, when our Secretary - Linda - got on the CB and said something like “KNN3083 mobile, this is Base, Over”. “Mobile here”, I said. “I have a private message for you. Try to find a phone to call.” “Roger Base. 10-7”.

I distinctly remember turning into a service station in Clifton, finding an outside pay phone, and calling Linda, to find out that our new Grand-daughter Molly was just born. (I just got Molly’s permission to mention this. Good move, huh?). Now, if I had a cell phone, John could have talked to me personally, rather than having to give me the message second handedly.

(Stick with me---I’m going on instant memory here.)

Of course, there were advantages to having a CB. You could hear some interesting (and sometimes startling) things that Truckers on the Interstates had to say. And, if you happened to be a “gabby” person, you could talk to nearly anyone you wanted. (Do we know anyone like that?)

Another instant thought.

I was listening to the CB one time, when I heard some talking - in some cases kinda “off mike”, like conversations in an office. There were, I think, 3 different people talking - basically about their business, and what was going on in the office. Sometimes there would be silence, as there would be in an office setting. (Experience tells us that the “noise” in an office is directly proportional to the number of persons in that office - official conversation or not.)

Anyway, after hearing that on the CB for some time, suddenly, a phone rang, and someone said, “Oh”, and the communication stopped. It became apparent that someone else was listening who recognized these office sounds, and called them to say, “Turn off the CB!”, or some such. I remember that it sounded like an auto rental firm. No problem if they had had a cell phone instead.

I don’t know if that experience prompted me to look into a “mobile phone” for the car or not. At any rate, I found out that Duane’s Answering Service could provide a mobile, or portable phone for the car, at a reasonable rate. I contacted Victor, and he arranged to have one installed in the WEEC car.

It wasn't a SMALL cell phone! It was LARGE, and the base for it was mounted on the floor of the front seat, right over the transmission. In the base was a speaker, and there was a microphone attached to it.

To make a call, you had to pick up the microphone, and say, “Springfield Base, this is 1470” (Actually saying “Fourteen seventy“) “1470 go ahead.” “Please dial 555-1212” (or another real number). You could hear the ringing of the phone, then someone would answer. When done, you reported, “Springfield base. 1470 clear”. I had an incoming number as well, some 3 number prefix to “1470”

One drawback was that it was “simplex”, not “duplex”. That is, only one side of the conversation could talk at once. Frustating if you disagreed with what the other person said, or didn't want to wait. It was convenient, though, as well as portable, and accessible. Not private, but you could handle that OK. And could be used out of state - with advance notification.

I probably had that for maybe 5 years. In more than one car, though. It had to be removed from the “old” car, and re-installed in the “new” one.

The next "wave" was Cellular Phones. They had the promise of nationwide usage, without a problem. The first ones were "analog", like the old fashioned telephones. Then, apparently in the late 1990's or thereabouts they were digital. It's doubtful if the "analog" ones can still be used.

Victor wasn’t interested in “cell phones”, so I had to go to the telephone company to find one. The promise of even nationwide usage and coverage in the future was attractive.

Though the phone company had them, local dealers, such as Craig Robinson in Lawrenceville sold and serviced them.

In about 1988 or ‘89, I contacted Craig and his daughter Kimberly, and bought my first Cell Phone. That was the first of at least 10 Cell phones I’ve had in these last 15 years. What a help Kimberly especially was to me!

Even the first one could be “dialed” to a regular phone number. And, it could receive calls directly - not through someone like “Springfield Base”. And, it could be taken to other states and used. Some extra arrangements had to be made, though. Calls were received and answered just like at home.

Since the first ones, Cell phones have progressed to sending text messages, containing a camera - with the ability to “send” pictures - and even access the computer.

The latest for me?

BlackBerry 8330. Nationwide free calls to and from ANY location. Text messages to and from ANY other cell phone. Send and receive e-mails, using my home e-mail address. Direct access to the Internet (including quick access to this “blog” site). Access to live NFL football games. Live weather reports. Calendar and Date Book, synchronized with my Computer Calendar and Date Book. Address book. Voice Mail, if I can’t answer the phone right away. Still camera. Send pictures from the phone to and from any Cell Phone, or, even any e-mail address. Video camera. Bluetooth availability. Free GPS Navigation so as to never get lost. Alarm clock. Calculator. Memo pad. Voice note recorder. Pocket Express for News, Weather, Sports, Entertainment, maps and travel. CNN News. Instant Messaging. Google Talk. Yahoo Messenger. Facebook. Games. Live Television. Direct shopping. Voice Dialing. To Do list. Maybe more, but I DON’T use them all.

Remarkable, the Technology today, isn’t it?

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