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what single feature of a cellphone would most impress someone from the 1970s?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by andrew markworthy, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. andrew markworthy

    andrew markworthy Well-Known Member

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    This is a little something that has had my colleagues and I talking about for the last few days, and I thought I'd share it with you.

    Like most folks, I have a cellphone, and recently I got a new model. By contemporary standards it's nothing remarkable - the size of a small candy bar, it offers the following:

    music and video playback
    Internet access
    text messaging
    a digital clock
    personal organiser
    video games
    oh yes, and you can make phone calls as well

    It occurred to me that when I was my son's age (14) in 1974, this device, which we now take totally for granted, would have been a thing of incredible wonder (anyone around at the time will recall the excitement generated by the first digital watches or Pong and they are like knapped flints in comparison). But what single feature of a cellphone would generate the most excitement or discussion?

    Most of my colleagues think it's the Internet, and I agree, but other colleagues say that the Internet isn't an intrinsic part of the phone, just something you can do with it, and what would really impress seventies people would be the compact size.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    That all depends. If you're taking the mobile back to the 1970's as is, where there are no cell towers to get reception off of, probably the music playback - the playlists feature would prove that it wasn't simply a small transistor radio. (Speaking off, why don't mobile phones have transistor radio tuners built in?)
    If you could magically get reception out of phantom cell towers, though, the part where it makes calls Star Trek style would clearly be the most impressive.
     
  3. drobbins

    drobbins Well-Known Member

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    One of the features one the phone is also a calculator. I remember in the 70s when the TI95 calculator came out. One of the first hand calculators and I think it started around $200. The kids that had one were considered well off. So a cell phone would probably have blown their mind. As mentioned definitely a Star Trek communicator from the future.
     
  4. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Well-Known Member

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    Voice activation. They would think it was witchcraft I think.
     
  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    The phone call aspect itself, I think.

    Indeed, Captain Kirk still pressing that button on his left shoulder, but we having a normal phone (and a Bluetooth "ear"). The rest would be taken for granted (camera, calculator), they weren't considered *that* special in the 70s anymore.

    Internet is amazing - but not specifically the aspects of it directly linked to cell phones.


    Cees
     
  6. KurtEP

    KurtEP Well-Known Member

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    Given the state of television technology in the 70's, I think that the small, full color displays that cell phones have today would have the most impact. I don't remember seeing color computer screens until the late 80's (unless we're talking about those that used a TV monitor). I can still remember black and white TV's, and certainly reruns in black and white, back in the 70's.
     
  7. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Hell, through most of the late 80's, early 90's most households I knew only had one color TV. Usually, secondary TVs were the ones being replaced, so that meant a lot of people were using B&W for a long while. Ever see a DVD player hooked up to an old black and white TV? That's an experience...
     
  8. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Well-Known Member

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    I think the mere fact that it allowed you to make telephone calls without a wire would make the biggest impression. Radios were mainstream in the '70s (10-4 good buddy), but not connected to the national telephone system.

    Other features such as Internet access, text messaging, a personal organiser, audio playback, Bluetooth etc. wouldn't mean much to anyone as these functions wouldn't have any immediate meaning to an onlooker (having no frame of reference for many of these functions), and would need to be explained.

    The actual phone's small size, its colour screen and the extremely unusual (for the 1970s) ring-tones would get much more attention than any added gadgets. The label on the back displaying 'Made in Korea/Malaysia/Japan/Singapore' might also get some intrigued comments.

    Given the phone's internal GPS tracking system, long transmission range and battery life, small size and its (probable) integrated still or video transmission system the phone would probably be regarded as a threat to national security and confiscated (once these functions were actually explained).

    I imagine the phone would garner significant scientific attention as concrete evidence of time travel, while sociologists and political scientists might attempt to extrapolate the state of 21st century world politics by examining the interface languages supported (imagine how they would react to a Cyrillic or Chinese interface on an American-made Motorola, or Korean on a Japanese-made Sony phone). They would probably eventually extract the contents of the T9 predictive text library and wonder why 'Detente', 'Gorbachev', 'Perestroika', 'Reagan', 'Yeltsin' and 'Glasnost' were included in an English-language dictionary. If the phone wasn't in its factory-default state, and a user had added some contemporary terminology, they might wonder what 'Pwned', 'w00t' and 'LOLcopter' meant.

    Adam
     
  9. mylan

    mylan Well-Known Member

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    I too think just the physical act of placing a (wireless) call to someone using their home telephone would be the most impressive thing to someone in the 70's. The LCD Armitron watch was $100 way back when and I was certainly impressed but calling somebody while moving in a car would be a serious mindblower moment.
    I did Q.A. on Mitsubishi cell phones back in 89 and I remember driving around to test cell sites/phones and thinking "how freaking cool is this". Airtime was about $2.00 a minute but mine was free. I had a standard sized wired handset connected to the transceiver mounted in the trunk. I got looks like you wouldn't believe. Man drobbins, you are taking me down memory lane with this thread, we could enter a code and go into test mode and hear every conversation on I-85, some of the things people talked about when they had no clue were simply astounding.

     
  10. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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    GPS wouldn't work [​IMG]. Neither would the internet, unless you had a suitable hardware and software interface.

    Color screen.
    Video Recording and Playback
    The GUI, provided that it wasn't too clunky.
    The battery.

    The camera itself probably would not-- plastic lens...
     
  11. andrew markworthy

    andrew markworthy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts, guys.

    I should have added that for the purposes of this argument, all the features on the phone work. So in other words, you can make calls, contact the Internet, etc.

    You could do that in the UK in the 1970's. At very great expense, you could have a car phone fitted. I believe you could only make calls, not receive them.

    And I'd forgotten about the calculator. Only goes to show how we take these things for granted.
     
  12. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Cees and Adam. The fact that I could make a call "Kirk style" would be the most impressive part to me. If someone brought an iPhone back to the mid-70s I would probably think it was from 200 years in the future.
     
  13. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Well-Known Member

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    It's probably not actually what would impress people, and doesn't have much to do with the phone itself, but one thing I thought while watching my 14-month-year-old niece playing with her mom's phone a couple weeks ago is that this kid is always going to think of phone numbers as referring to a person as opposed to a location. When I was a kid in the 1980s, you might have to call a half-dozen numbers to get hold of somebody, but now I always know how to get in contact with someone on the first try.
     
  14. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Well-Known Member

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    He said 1974, not 1674. LOL
     
  15. Buzz Foster

    Buzz Foster Well-Known Member

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    My mom called me from her friend's brother's car phone in about 1979, so I don't think the wireless calls would shock as much as being seen as a natural progression.

    Internet, text messaging, etc. would be too foreign for them to see the impact they have.

    Historically speaking, probably the most controversial change to ever occur in phone service was Caller ID. I'd bet that would be the most impressive feature, as is would be simple, understandable, and desireable. Voice mail would probably be a close second.
     
  16. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Well-Known Member

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    But wouldn't voice mail be considered a natural progression of answering machines which they had back in the '70s?
     
  17. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Very good points made by several posters.

    Thinking it over, I now believe the single feature that would impress them most is: how small they are.

    In fact, it sometimes even impresses me still.


    Cees
     
  18. Marianne

    Marianne Well-Known Member

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    I think they would be impressed that you can make a phone call from anywhere at any time (provided there is a signal).

    How many movies from the 70s have you watched where you say to yourself:
    "If they only had a cell phone, they could __________________ "
     
  19. Mark Giles

    Mark Giles Well-Known Member

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    I would say the capacity. Given that along with the calculator, photos, videos, it's like a small computer. And you can store several gigabytes worth of information on it....where back in the 70s that would probably take up an entire building.
     
  20. BrianW

    BrianW Well-Known Member

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    My cell phone has a periodic chart of the elements. It has about half a dozen new elements that have been discovered since 1974. I bet there are some who would take a very keen interest in that.

    -Steve
     

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