Cell phones are now a routine part of the lives of billions of people. But that has been a long time in coming.

Willow, Abby (April, 2013). How Much Did the Original Cell Phone Cost? Yahoo.com. Retrieved 4/4/2013 from http://voices.yahoo.com/how-much-did-original-cell-phone-cost-7170468.html.

Quoting from the article:

The original cell phone was first used by Martin Cooper on April 3, 1973. He created a 30 ounce cell phone (that's nearly 2 pounds!) and would walk around New York talking on his wireless phone. Working with Motorola as their general manager, he envisioned a wireless phone that people could use while walking down the street. Ten years later, in 1983, that vision came to light for the general population. Motorola produced the first cell phone for public use. It weighed a pound, and cost the average individual $3,500!

That $3,500 cost would be approximately $7,900 in today’s money. And, of course, the first commercially-produced cell phones did not have: built-in color digital still and video camera; provisions for storing and playing music and games, or viewing videos and TV; texting and email; voice recognition; access to the Web; social networking; or GPS facilities. “We have come a long way, baby.”

The Website http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a - uniquesubscribers indicates that in November, 2012, there were about 4.3 billion people who, in total, had about 6.4 billion cell phone subscriptions. The Website http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2335616 reports that cell phone sales in 2012 were about 1.75 billion units. While the numbers reported in articles of this sort can vary, it is clear that there are a great many cell phones in use today relative to a total earth population of about 7 billion people.

Some General Issues to Think About

These reports started me thinking about several things:

Posing Researchable Questions

 I find that almost any topic that interests me lends itself to testing my memory and my information retrieval skills. For example, did the cell phone come into general use before or after the Sony Walkman? My younger readers might ask, “What is a Sony Walkman and how does it relate to a cell phone?” Here are some additional questions that occurred to me as I was writing this IAE Blog entry:

  1. When was television invented and when did it become widely available to the general public?
  2. What is the difference between a Walkie Talkie—used during World War II that ended in 1945—and a cell phone?
  3. When was the transistor invented, and were transistors used in the first cell phones?
  4. When was the Internet developed—and how about the Web? Can you explain the differences between the Internet and the Web?
  5. When was photography invented? When were digital still cameras and digital video cameras invented? The answers to this second question may surprise you. See http://www.bobbrooke.com/digitalstudio/digitalhistory.htm.
  6. How much “compute power” do today’s smart phones have relative to various computers built during the past few decades? For example, how do today’s smart phones compare to the room-sized multimillion-dollar super computers of 30 or 35 years ago?
  7. When did voice input to computers first become commercially successful? How can a smart phone understand and carry out spoken commands? What roles, if any, does Artificial Intelligence play in this endeavor?

The point I am making is that the cell phone has a long history with very deep roots. Children of all ages—including we adults—can have fun posing and answering questions related to both newly emerging and older technologies. We can also contemplate what might come next!

What You Can Do

We live in a complex and rapidly changing world. Some of us revel in the fun of being an integral, engaged part of the changes. Others of us tend to withdraw—perhaps hoping that “the good old days” will return. Do some introspection about how you deal with the changes and how you influence others who are faced by similar changes. Remember, all of us are lifelong teachers and lifelong learners. In your lifelong teacher role, work to develop a personal plan for helping others deal with technology-based changes. In your lifelong learner role, resolve to set a positive example of “keeping up” with the many new technologies that are just over the horizon.

Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications

You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.

Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.

Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:

20/20 vision for 2020 challenges. See http://iae-pedia.org/20/20_Vision_for_2020_Challenges.

A tablet computer and connectivity for every student. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/a-tablet-computer-and-connectivity-for-every-student.html.

Alan Kay. See http://iae-pedia.org/Alan_Kay.

Artificial Intelligence. See http://iae-pedia.org/Artificial_Intelligence.

Moursund, D. (10/23/2012). In Math Education and Other Disciplines: Asking the “Right” Researchable Questions. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/16/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/in-math-education-and-other-disciplines-asking-the-right-researchable-questions.html.

Predictions about the future of computer technology. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/predictions-about-the-future-of-computer-technology.html.

Sylwester, R. and Moursund, D. (2012). Creating an appropriate 21st century education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 4/5/2013 from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/243-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html.

What the future is bringing us. See http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.