Random question for the olds

4899194035_30ee19703f_oI’m guessing you’d need to be at least 30-35 for your answer to this question to matter to me– old enough that you spent your life on analog/wired phones, and that you bought *yourself* your first cell phone.  Two questions:

1) Do you actually remember getting your first cell phone?  Like, was it an Event?  Can you describe the phone, or nail down what year it was that you bought it?

2) Can you remember sending or receiving your first text message?  (Preferably, for the purposes of this question, these two events did not occur on the same day– in other words, you had a cell phone before text messages were a Thing.)

Just curious.  And, for the record, I’m just as interested in the “no” answers as the “Yes, this is when it was” answers, so if you don’t remember one of the two, let me know.  Thanks.

32 thoughts on “Random question for the olds

  1. Ha! Why, yes I remember that day very clearly. I was just out of college. My best friend and I got the same phone on the same day, one # off from one another. She was my first ‘texting experience’. Fond memories of those initial days in cellphone-hood.

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  2. I had a roommate who had a cellphone in 1986 so it wasn’t a new thing. My wife had a cell phone in the early 90s when I met her. We honeymooned in Italy in 97 and Everyone was on their cell phones constantly while No One in the US had one. Sometime between then and 2000 I picked up one. Don’t remember the date. Don’t remember the first text. It was no big deal.

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  3. sculpturesteph

    My first ‘cell phone’ or ‘mobile phone’ (in UK) or ‘handy’ (in German) was a NEC.
    Pale blue with silver buttons/keys and this must have been in 1999. So quite late- but it was literally the time when they became affordable to non important business people…
    It cost me a fortune on a monthly contract, the network provider was bought up by a bigger company which got bought up by another bigger foreign company which eventually got bundled into a package and got also bought up- but that is a different story…

    I was very proud and a show off with my mobile phone- unfortunately most of my friends (no business managers just students) didn’t have one so there basically wasn’t anyone who would phone me and definitely no one who texted me… I also never got into texting (on my fourth or fifth phone) as it took too long and I thought I rather just call the other person and have things agreed and discussed in two minutes rather than spending half an hour on texting back and forth.

    I have given up on mobiles/ smartphones about three years ago- I have somewhat become an oddity for not having a mobile phone- but it was the best single thing I’ve ever done improving the quality of my social life, mental well being and bank balance.

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  4. The Chaos Realm

    My first cell phone, which I still have somewhere, is actually a small Verizon flip phone that load with minutes and use for when I’m on the road. I forget who made it. I do most of my business/interpersonal communication over the internet/by email. (I spent more time on mIRC chat back in the…90s?) I’ve Skyped on the rare occasion when I needed to talk to someone. I don’t currently even have an activated cell phone laugh And, I’ve never sent or received a text. LOL But, I think it’s more to do with the fact that I’m not much of a phone person/social butterfly type. (“Back in the day”, it was ultimate indulgence to give your kid a cell phone, and kids that had them were uber-spoiled “richies”.)

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  5. I don’t remember exactly, but it was prior to 2002. It was champagne in color and about 6″ long. Not a flip phone. It became a symbol to me of my then husband’s inability to follow a budget and his need to “keep up with the Johnsons”. So when I filed for divorce in 2002 I canceled the service. I didn’t get a phone again until 2004, and then only because by boyfriend (now husband) paid for it. Now I don’t know what I would do without it. I use it for research, building a media presence and just the usual communication with family.

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  6. 2000, I was 24 and was the last of my friends to get one. A requirement for regular pub crawls back then. I don’t remember using it for texting, just short calls, like texting wasn’t yet a ‘thing’ in our group.

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  7. I still resist them. And I am a teacher of technology! My current phone is still a camera-less, basic ten-dollar model with pre-pay minutes. My first phone was in the 90’s, and was pretty much the model I use now. I only in this decade (2014) started texting, finally and with great reluctance. It is cheaper than calling and stretches my minutes.
    I absolutely despise being connected to that umbilical cord,and would cut it off if I was not worried about missing an important call…….:-)

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  8. Old, indeed. The first cellphone that I used (handset) was in Hong Kong in 1988-89 It was a big 4 pound Motorola that came with a briefcase which contained the battery. Hong Kong was — and still is — on the cutting edge of technology. Any earlier and a cellphone was a very rare thing. College students likely couldn’t afford them. I just looked. At that time they cost just under $4K Texting? I don’t remember. Much later than that.

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  9. Got my first cell phone in ’02 since I was just starting college. It was a nokia of some sort. The only thing I remember was the fact that it had a snake game and I was able to get 99 Red Balloons on it as a midi ringtone. I have a friend who fondly remembers it.

    As far as text messages, I think that started happening once I upgraded which was probably two or three years later. I have the vague feeling of joy due to it but I think that was more thanks to not having to actually talk on the phone anymore.

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  10. Greg Lammers

    My first phone was a Nokia. It was a Tracfone – prepaid minutes. I very rarely texted with it, and never become a heavy SMS user. I’d have to do some digging to see exactly when I got the phone – somewhere in the mid 00s.

    I liked having a portable phone, it really was nice to be able to have a phone conversation just about anywhere. I dug the Nokia, it was reliable and near indestructible. I think we ended up donating it to our kids’ preschool. If you’ve ever been around little kids you probably know that they LOVE playing with phones.

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  11. Wow, if you need someone in their 30’s to answer those questions, then that’ll make me super old school because I am not even in my mid-20’s and I didn’t learn to send my first text message until last year and I hate it. It takes forever and there’s a character limit. I’m still using a flip phone and I have never even touched a smart phone. To be honest, I still prefer speaking over typing on a 12-button phone.

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  12. I do remember getting my first cell phone really clearly. It was a gift, and I wanted one of the old Nokias with the interchangeable face-plates, but it was this long Audiovox that was a silvery color. I don’t remember first sending a text so vividly.

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  13. Jennifer

    My true first phone was a concrete-block-size bag phone my parents got me when I started driving. So I could call then when I was leaving somewhere or would be late, or for emergencies. The first one I got for personal use was in 2002 or so. I had a flat tire on the way home from the San Jose airport at 1am and had no means of communication. I survived middle-of-the-night tire change and promptly went and got my husband and myself a pair of phones that next week. We had not-fancy Motorola phones that were the free ones with the plan.

    I remember receiving my first text message before I ever sent one (they charged per message, after all!) That was 2005? maybe even as late as 2006. It wasn’t long before I switched to a plan with a larger text message allowance

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  14. We got ours in the early 2000s, and it wasn’t an Event so much as an act of frustration. We were both working full time and my husband also did volunteer work while I was in grad school, and all this with one car in Los Angeles at a time when working phone booths were getting harder and harder to find. The practice of leaving one another messages on the home machine became less and less viable. The phones were Nokia mini-bricks, one of which still survives to this day and serves as the house phone with a prepaid plan.

    While the phones were capable of texting, we were not. I don’t remember sending my first text; I remember receiving texts and not knowing what to do with them. I did start texting later and now use it regularly – though I’m sure I had to have my younger sister explain it to me at the time.

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  15. I am still 29 for a few more hours but I do remember getting my first cell phone. I still visualize it (it was a blue SAGEM one). My father had got an extra one (he already had his first cell phone for a year or so at that time) from whomever and decided to give it to me, in January 2000. I was 15 and in high school. I remember the tiny screen with the big letters, where you had max 2 lines for text messages. It wasn’t a thing back then, but slowly began to be, though I don’t remember getting my first text message.

    I am still a dinosaur when it comes to cell phones. I am super picky for my computers and have been for years, but to me a cellphone calls and texts, period. I make people laugh when they see the one I currently have, that isn’t even much of a smartphone. They don’t get why I like it, just like I love my basic Ipod NaNo (old generation that only does audio). Both items do what I want them to (be a phone and play music). People think that because I’m very demanding of my computers (and kill them by extensive use regardless of the power and settings, after some years), I am so basic for other machines.

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  16. Yes. early 40s here.

    My first cell phone was a Motorola the size of a brick, with an antenna you could pull up for better reception. 1995 or 96. I had to buy the slip case with the belt clip because it was too big to ride in my pocket. It got HOT if I used it too much, and had probably 45 minutes of continuous battery life for actually conversation. I mostly used it in my car and kept it plugged into a car charger.

    The service cost more than my AT&T land line did at the time. It was not a good deal, but the ladies at the local bar thought I was very cool, playing shuffleboard with one hand while talking to the state Democratic Party with the other (long story, and not going to drag this thread into the politics. I had this phone early enough for it to add some cool to my game, is the point).

    No idea when I sent my first text. I resisted texting for a long, long time, and still hate it. Since I suppose I just have to guess, maybe I sent it around 2003 or 04 from some flip phone that I don’t even remember.

    And this is a very awesome post.

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  17. I have never owned a cell phone, believe it or not. (No, I’m not a technophobe. I’ve simply never had a need for a cell phone, and at times couldn’t afford one anyway.) I do vaguely recall my twin getting one about 12 years ago, but all I can tell you about it is that it was dark blue and clearly not intended for use by someone with large hands.

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  18. I’m 51, and yes, I remember my first cell phone. I got it somewhere around 2000, because the small city we lived in had terrible landline service. Before that, my husband had a pager. (Anybody remember pagers?) It was a small blue flip phone that I immediately customized with a case with a cheezy New Age dolphin on it.

    Texting is a little more difficult for me to pin down. I used Yahoo IM on my phone for a couple of years before anyone ever texted me directly. I pretty much hate text messages. As someone commented up thread, it takes 30 minutes to complete a conversation you could have in 2 minutes, and that’s not figuring in the terrible lag we sometimes have with texting where I live now.

    I hung on to that little flip phone until it simply would not upgrade any longer. I’ve been an early adopter of a lot of tech, but not phone tech. Phones, a necessary evil of modern life. ;/ And I agree, awesome post!

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  19. I’m under your age bracket at 26, but I remember being one of the last of my friends to get a phone. Once I got my license and started driving on my own instead of with a learner’s permit, my mom had a mini freak out and decided we both needed cell phones. I’m not sure why she bothered getting herself one, seeing as how when I was rear-ended by a drunk driver, no one could get a hold of her! Anyway, it was this great little blue thing, I think a Nokia maybe? I remember it being one of the first phones with COLOR! I didn’t get texting until freshman year of college, 2007. Ha, I can remember when 200 messages a month was plenty!!!

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  20. So. Um. This has been startlingly successful. 🙂 Here’s where this post came from: I reread an old post this morning– this one:

    https://infinitefreetime.com/2014/02/22/in-which-i-do-a-terrible-thing-to-a-nice-person/

    and it got me thinking about how weird it was that I didn’t notice when I first used what’s proved to be a seriously life-changing technology for a lot of us. The interesting thing, from reading this, is that most of you, even those of you who use text messages, appear to have had the same experience. But almost nobody doesn’t remember their first cell phone.

    Anyway, it’s interesting. Feel free to keep sharing stories. 🙂

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  21. NotAPunkRocker

    First cell phone was an analog phone, via PrimeCo which is no longer around but had a cute alien as their logo. Next phone after that, under Suncom, was a Nokia 3310? 8810? whatever, just had interchangable faceplates. I would get texts on it from time to time but never knew how to respond.

    This would all be fifteen years ago, right when I got married. The marriage didn’t last, but I have the same phone number at least 🙂

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  22. Thought I’d add another cell phone story. My husband’s best friend had a bag phone when they first came out, so late 80’s? At some point, and this might have been after he graduated to what we might term a cell phone, he got a call from his dad and he says he remembered being annoyed because minutes were expensive and his dad was just rambling on about nothing. That was the last time he spoke to his dad, who died later that day unexpectedly. He says he wishes he would have treasured that conversation more. I try to remember that when I get annoyed at the mundane conversations I am forced to participate in with those I love. You never know when your last conversation will take place, so make it a good one. And if my husband’s friend wouldn’t have had a cell phone, that conversation would never have existed in the first place.

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  23. Wow. Im amazed by the recollections shared here. Must be something significant to the novelty of our first cell phone / first text. But I’m sorry to report nothing at all on both counts. I was probably excited to join the masses in modern communication, but the truth is that I have no specific recollection.

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  24. I was given my first cellphone in August 2000 as a birthday present, it was a second hand Philips TCD128 Savvy with a tiny screen. The friend who gave it to me did so because she wanted to be able to be on contact with me when I wasn’t home. Two months later I moved to the UK and got me a Nokia 5110 which I loved and had wanted for a while (a friend at uni had one and I thought it was the best phone ever, besides Nokia phones are nearly unkillable. The one I had 2 phones ago got a broken screen but still worked).

    I’ll spare you the list of the phones I’ve owned until then… 😉

    I don’t quite remember my first text (sent or received) though.

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  25. A silver rectangle about 10 x 6 cms, no texting, 1988/90 (?). It rang for the first time when I was in the dentist’s chair, and I lost it a couple of months later by upturning my canoe with it on me and discovered the replacement cost to be £280! The original £40 odd had been for the contract.

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  26. 35 years old. Bought my first cell phone in 2007. (I am always waaaaay behind the curve on tech.) The buying, specifically, wasn’t an event but it was symbolic of a larger thing, which was my quitting my job, moving across the country, and starting grad school. It seemed like having a phone number that was attached to me and not a place was a good idea, and also it might come in handy in case of trouble in the 2000 mile drive I was about to go on. That phone, btw, lived for a very long time, including a full immersion in Lake Michigan in 2009.

    I have no recollection of my first text message, though.

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