Evolution of the Cell Phone

January 20, 2014
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Readers, let me take you on a journey into the past. Back to the Eighties, when the personal communication device known as the cell phone first appeared. Then, it was the stuff of Star Trek. Imagine! You could communicate with anyone without the need to find a public phone (which was invariably vandalised, busy, or doubling as a public urinal). Now, the cell phone has become an extension of our hand. No café table is complete without a smart phone laying by the cup of coffee.

cell phone evolution

But there is an odd thing happening with these phones. During its existence, the cell phone has evolved. On the face of it, this may not appear odd. Technology is a fast-moving field, so it is no surprise that the cell phone has changed drastically from its earliest incarnation. The strangeness lies in our attitude towards the size of the phone.

When they first emerged onto the market, cell phones were only seen in the hands of city traders. Those hands were the size of their owner’s ego. They needed to be – those cell phones were the size of house bricks. Huge, ponderous oblongs that could have done double duty as a weapon. You could have created a tunnel through to the other side of the Earth simply by dropping one of those phones from a great height.

As time went on and technology improved, these massive phones were soon replaced by smaller models. The larger phones became obsolete, not only from a technological point of view, but from their desirability. People scoffed at their friends who were still lugging around larger phones, and proudly showed off their miniaturised version. Thus the huge bricks of the Eighties evolved into sleek beauties barely bigger than a credit card.

Yet now, we see a kind of reverse evolution in place. Since the advent of the smart phone, devices are becoming larger again. Screens are expanding, and with it the size of the phone. Soon they will be too large to fit into the hand. The aging traders of the Eighties will be coming out of retirement to once again wave their huge bricks.

So there you have it. Phones started off enormous, then grew smaller, then larger again. It’s a kind of yo-yo diet. And it’s pretty darn odd, when the original, large phones were derided as clunky. But that’s the modern world for you. Strange place …

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