The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources


Cell Phones

What on earth did we do before them? Like the microwave and other new small appliances, we have quickly learned to re-configure our lives and behaviors around the fact that we have them. Like all such phenomena, of course, they have their downside. While it is undoubtedly convenient, and in some cases even life-saving, to be able to reach someone else from wherever we are (such as broken down by the side of the road or lost in the wilderness!) it can be decidedly inconvenient for people to be able to reach US whenever they want to. Cell phones have made it more difficult to “get away from it all. Another downside is that if you aren't careful of using cell phones without a handsfree kit while driving you are more prone to be in an accident.

And the things they can do! A partial list of functions available with the new models must include the ability to: Play games, plug in other devices such as Personal Digital Assistants to keep you on track and on time, make use of a built-in calculator and store all your addresses and phone numbers. Most phones let your download ringtones to them. We hear that the newest ones allow us to watch TV on them!

The use of the word “phone” may actually be deceiving for anyone trying to understand how this gadget works. A cell phone works on the same principle as a radio except that instead of a big transmitter, the use of smaller “cells” (you’ve seen the towers) means that they can work on much lower frequencies and so the number of channels increases by hundreds. This enables many people to use the same frequencies at one time.

For some reason, mobile phones and accessories became popular in Europe and Asia earlier than they did in the United States and there are still far fewer in this country than overseas. But we are catching up fast, especially with the younger generation. Cell phone use among teenagers is currently at least at 20% of the population range and gaining quickly. Part of the reason for this is that while the kids think of them as means to connect with one another, parents who are working like the idea of being able to keep in touch and do some long-range supervising of the kids.

In any case, they are here to stay, and with so many cell phone models available everyone can find one they like!