Remember the Motorola Bag Cell Phone?

In 2022, there are so may different types of cell phones. Multiple manufacturer's, multiple plans and a wide range of costs.

Back in 1993 when Motorola introduced the first affordable cell phone to the masses, it was a landmark day.

Expensive?, yes, cool? extremely!

Fortunately for me, I was working with a very progressive IT Consulting company based in Charlotte, NC. I was responsible for Staffing a leading edge IT project that was considered critical to growing the companies technology using image capture to process financial tranasctions.

I was traveling on a regular basis to Raleigh, NC and the Research Triangle Park. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive each way which is a lot of windshield time. My leadership team determined it was a cost effective tool and I should have one, I didn’t disagree.

I recall that I had to go to a company called Alltel to get my phone and have it and a long range antenna installed in my car.

I was amazed that it actually worked!

One of my first discoveries was that there were very few others that had the same device. It was expensive to purchase and install and then there was a monthly fee on top of that.

It was nice to be able to submit that as a cost of business on my monthly expense report. What was even nicer is that the cost of use was billed as a flat rate expense rather than on a per call basis. That meant that I had the ability to make unlimited calls anywhere. No longer was there a consideration for a call being ‘long distance’.

As I recall, one of the downsides was that it was not very ‘portable’. In other words if you wanted to use the phone away from your vehicle, you had to detach it from the base system inside your vehicle and transport the entire bag system with you. You still had to deal with the ‘cord’ which connected the handset to the base unit and battery. You also had limited range due to the smaller antenna.

It wasn’t very long until there were new models being introduced by Motorola that eliminated the need for the bag. This model was called the Razer phone, hello Moto.

The batteries became stronger and smaller and you nolonger needed to be attached to the bag at all and the need for the larger antenna system went away, you were truly mobile!

These phones were good for making and receiving phone calls. You were somewhat limited with the range of the phone. Generally as long as you were able stick close to larger cities and the Interstate system you were OK.

None of these phones made use of the ‘apps’ that we now have with Smart Phones. They had a camera but it was not very practical to use and ever more difficult to send a photo once you took it.

It wasn’t until the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007 that cell technology took a leap forward. The concept of using ‘apps’ was revolutionary. All of a sudden you had a calculator, a camera, a rolodex, a calendar, a recorder and a Walk Man all in the palm of your hand. Where would we be without GasBuddy and Google Maps?

The next step in the evolution of the cell phone was the concept of software updates. When a new feature came out, you simply updated the software rather than purchase a new phone.

Everyone regards technology differently. For many, there is a ‘fear factor’. The idea of learning how to use a new device created fear for many. It was more comfortable to stay within the safe zone of using the ‘land line’, you pick up the phone and dial.

I always regarded technology as a tool. If it made my life easier and it was useful, then why not? Just like the caveman with the spear, the sling and the wheel, the use of tools allowed you not only to survive but to advance.

Today, I cannot imagine life without a cell phone. It’s always in my back pocket and I feel like something is missing if I’m without it. If you have ever left it somewhere or worse yet, lost it, you know that feeling of immediate panic “oh no, what am I going to do now?”

There are some of us who live the duel connected life. We have the land line and the cell phone. I lived in New Orleans pre-Katrina. Everyone I knew had a cell phone. The hurricane took out the towers and the cell networks. Your cell phone became useless and and you were no longer connected. Maybe, I just believe in the concept of insurance.

What’s next?

The foldable phone? The virtual reality phone? The hologram phone? The phone that is embedded in your wrist?

You can be sure whatever it is, someone is using it now and before long it will be the ‘next big thing’ that we just can’t live without.

Let’s just hope there is a family plan and we can put it on the expense report.



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