Personal Communications: We've Come a Long Way Since 'The Brick'

Personal Communication Devices

It seems so long ago that the most popular function of a phone was making actual calls. And, remember pagers? Watching almost any movie or TV show from the late 1990s will show how these devices played a central role in our lives. And what about Blackberries, first released in 1999? Seems like ancient history, right? It makes you wonder how dated our smartphones will look in 20 years.

Consider this. 1983’s Motorola DynaTAC 8000X weighed about two and a half pounds and was the first cell phone the public could buy. Affectionately referred to as “The Brick,” the phone provided about 30 minutes of talk time for the “bargain” price of $3,995 plus monthly fees.

But making phone calls wasn’t enough. Users wanted more! Enter smartphones. Developers tried Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browsers on phones, but the experience was exasperating. Developers had to work harder.

Over time, major players in the mobile platform race included the now-discontinued Palm OS, Symbian and MeeGo. Eventually in 2007 the now-familiar and hugely popular Apple iPhone iOS arrived, followed by Google’s Android. Android is currently the most popular mobile platform worldwide and features open source code.

Today’s mobile technology users – meaning almost everybody – want a device that helps them not only communicate but also work, play and share their lives with their friends across social platforms. How? Using mobile applications.

And mobile apps are what they got – millions of them! Apple led the mobile app industry for a number of years with its App Store and continues to add new apps practically every day. Currently they have about 1.21 million. However, Google took the lead at the end of last year according to a recent report, ending 2014 with more than 1.43 million Android apps.

Personal communications have come a long way in a mere 25-year period – from talking to someone on a stationary telephone to carrying a phone with you in your pocket to looking up nearby restaurants and letting your friends know about them. Just imagine what else the future holds.