Mobile phones - haven't they done well?
I well remember how 50 or so years ago we would queue up outside a red telephone box in the rain and then when our turn finally came we would pick up the heavy bakelite hand piece and speak to an operator who would connect us to the chosen number. When the dialled call was answered we would press a very stiff and heavy button and four copper pennies would clatter into the money box below. At least, however, a telephone box was usually clean and undamaged! Nowadays of course they are often used as toilets when they are not being vandalised or robbed.
Along came the cellular phone and all of a sudden just about everyone was carrying one, from young children right up to aged seniors, and many people even owned several. They were a great boon to working mothers in particular, who could keep track of their children while they were out away from home, and business communications were revolutionised. As networks became more efficient prices fell and since it is in the nature of mankind to be for ever inventive the technology has improved further until we have now reached the stage at which our mobile phones can be used not only to capture moving images were also to export these over the Internet. They are no longer merely a device which enables us to speak to other people over a distance, but they will act as a telephone answering machine as well, and I well recall as a young businessman how the original answering machines were the size of a medium sized suitcase and cost a huge monthly fee to rent! Mobile phones are now also a mobile camera, a mini computer, a calculator, a storage facility for all our telephone numbers and essential notes, integrating such facilities as speed dialling systems, instant redial and even time checks.
One of the most useful and least appreciated facilities in many mobile phones is the hands free facility which allows people to make phone calls whilst using both hands on other tasks, and this has not only made the telephone more useful to people who are working whilst making a call but it has also made things much safer too, particularly for those who are driving and telephoning at the same time.
Back in the 1960s we used to marvel at the technology we saw in science fiction films and television programmes such as Star Trek and it is now interesting to look back and realise that many of the gadgets that we looked upon as being impossible futuristic dreams are now commonplace. We cannot as yet of course use our mobile telephones to beam ourselves up to an orbiting spaceship, but I would not put money on the fact that we may be able to do so in the not too distant future!
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