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Posts Tagged ‘Cell Phones’

On April 3, 1973, a Motorola engineer made the world’s first cell phone call. On April 3, 2010, Apple’s original iPad was released. What do these dates have in common? Snark! Slate discusses early reactions to the cell phone, which included this optimistic appraisal from 1973: “Carry it to the beach, the supermarket, the yacht, the fox hunt, the golf course, the hideaway where you went to get away from it all.” In 1983, Globe and Mail reported that cellular technology could eventually replace regular phones. “Indeed,” they stated, “one of the offshoots may be that eventually each person will have a “personal telephone number,” which could remain the same for life.” (They failed, I guess, to anticipate a world in which nobody actually knows anybody else’s phone number.) Some were skeptical, though, including the engineer who made the first cell phone call, who said that “Even if you project it beyond our lifetimes, it won’t be cheap enough.”

Regarding the iPad, there were also doubters, some of which are cataloged here. My favorite of these was, “Apple iPad – failure, joke or fiasco? Pick one” Linen DeFiller, MillionFace.com, 27 January 2010. Of course, since 1973, cell phones have become ubiquitous and since 2010 Apple has sold more than 100 million iPads.

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Given the multitude of features that today’s smartphones have, some may be surprised to see commercials featuring people holding their phones while talking. Not on their phones, of course, but to their phones (here is an example featuring Samuel L. Jackson). When I originally got my new phone I thought that the idea of talking to it was ridiculous and assumed that I would avoid doing so. What I’ve found, however, is that my new, touchscreen phone makes doing something like setting an alarm take three times as long as on my previous phone. In order to avoid the frustration of this process, I’ve found myself talking to my phone. It is much easier to say “set an alarm for 6:30 am,” for example, than it is to manually set the alarm.

Phones are not the only area where technology helps us overcome the challenges presented by technological convenience. My previous cars featured single-disc CD players. This required me to bring physical CDs with me when driving but made the process of selecting and changing music simple and straightforward. My current car has a six-disc CD changer but it also has a USB port that I use for a flash drive with digital copies of all of my CDs. Instead of having a few albums at my disposal when driving, then, I now have all of my albums. It is possible to access these by cycling through menus by artist and then album, but it is much faster (and safer, when driving) to simply tell my car what I want it to play.

As technology provides us with access to more things in more places, it also complicates our lives. Thankfully, technology also provides us with ways to simplify these complications. (Unless there is a power outage and we’re  left with neither.)

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