The 1st Cell Phone Call – a Retrospective

Picturephones never made it…

Mashable posted this morning about today making 40 years since the first cell phone call. I stopped to calculate how young I was at the time…

I was in high school

At that time, we were happy enough having a phone extension in the bedroom – a teen’s only way to get out of the hall to have a private conversation. Parents panicked when they realized they no longer could hear all of our conversations. And we teens were conscious someone could pick up the other line and listen. Nothing compared to today.

Who cared?

I don’t recall knowing anything about this new cellular technology. But then, in that era, new inventions splashed on the evening news and then disappeared. You learned it was best to not to get too excited because many of these earth-changing discoveries never got to the masses due to the huge expense of production.

A great example was Jetson’s style visual communication that featured in the Ma Bell “Future” section of the State Fair year after year (see image). It was a big flop. Today, visual communication finally surfaced without the use of telephones.

Marketing Potential?

Back then, the only advantage we saw to Picturephones was the ability to see who was on the other end of the line. And we weren’t always sure we wanted to BE seen! The first concern was whether there was an OFF button!

There was no discussion as to the marketing capabilities to come with portable visual capabilities. After all, this was the era of newspapers, magazines, billboards and only 3 TV networks.

Similar to the infancy of Social Media, it was all about social communication only. Now, the primary discussion is all in Market-speak.

As with all inventions, you never really know what ultimate usage will evolve, but one thing you can be sure of, someone in marketing will always be asking:

What’s our reach?

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