Top Ten Things Not to Do at the First Deployment of Mobile Phones in 1947

 

Southwestern Bell inaugurates the first mobile phone service in St. Louis on this day in 1947. If you were there, it is hoped you took some precautions in order not to create a scene or more importantly a tear in the time continuum. For fun, let’s pretend we were there and use this list to stay out of trouble. Grab that time machine lever and set it for June 17th, 1947.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the first Deployment of Mobile Phones in 1947 by John W, Howell © 2019

10 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not line up in front of the Bell office hoping to be the first to get a phone. If you do, at best you might get a nice Bellperson to talk to you. At worst, since the equipment weighs 75 pounds and takes up the entire trunk area, someone may actually hand you a set. ( Well now what are you going to do, Hazen. You don’t even have a car. This wasn’t how you expected it to turn out was it?)

9 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not ask Tiny the WWF champ to hold your equipment while to try to find a car. If you do, at best Tiny will just say no. At worst, Tiny who just finished his group therapy session on not knowing when to say no, will accept the equipment and then abruptly remember the lessons he learned. (Well, Heathcliff. Looks like you have a big mess where Tiny slammed your stuff to the sidewalk. Might be hard to replace. Oh-oh here comes a Bell technician and it looks like he is outraged.)

8 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not ask for unlimited talk and text. If you do, Bell will think you are joking. At worst, the Bell employee will call the supervisor since you are being viewed as a threat. (After all, Hedwig the service costs in today’s dollars $175 a month and about $4.46 for a call.)

7. At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not mention dialing a number to connect. If you do, at best you’ll confuse the person since there is only talk and listen buttons on the receiver. At worst, you’ll attract attention to the fact that you are not from around there. (You see, Heinroch, you need to wait until the line is clear and then the mobile operator will connect you. Only three people can make a call on the mobile system at one time in all of St. Louis. Is that the police headed this way?)

6 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not ask questions about the app store. If you do, at best the clerk will misunderstand you, and you’ll be wise enough not to repeat the question. At worst, the clerk will mistake you and direct you to the hardware store. (Of course, you now repeat yourself, Helios and the under the counter red button is pressed since the clerk thinks you are insisting upon an ax. The security force has been waiting to try out their new stun bomb devices. Oh, get up. You are only stunned.)

5 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not ask how many pixels in the camera. If you do, at best the clerk will go to the back to find out an answer and not return. At worst, your question will be handled by the senior tech rep on duty. (After four hours of confusing back and forth descriptions of what you each think is the question, Henley, you finally tell the rep you understand if nothing else but to get to visit the men’s room. Of course, the tech rep is delighted he could help you. He goes on in life to found the concept called customer service.)

4 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not drive around pretending you and on the phone to impress others. If you do, at best, no one is looking. At worst, most will have no idea what you are doing and will believe you work for the government. (So it was you who gave rise to the rumors of government agents in black cars searching for aliens, Henrich. Nice job.)

3 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not lecture the company on the evils of driving and talking. If you do, at best the person you are teaching won’t want to stop you. At worst, you will lecture someone who will yell and tell you to leave. ( So riddle me this, Henrique. What good is a mobile phone if you are not mobile? I think the guy who threw you out was yelling the same thing.)

2 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not try to pay your bill with your Visa credit card. If you do, at best the clerk will think you are funny. At worst, you will be arrested for trying to pass a counterfeit note. (You should have done your homework, Hephaestus. The first credit card designed for general use was Diner’s Club, and it was launched in 1950. Looks like the treasury department and the Central Intelligence Group have an interest in your card. The CIG was founded in January 1947 and is eager to find the foreign source of your Visa card.)

1 At the inauguration of mobile phone service, do not ask if the phone comes in colors. If you do, at best you’ll get a smile and a statement about basic black. At worst, you will give some tech an idea on which to act. (Since colored phones weren’t introduced until 1954 you may have created a tear in the time continuum as the tech rushes to develop a colored phone. Of course, it could be argued that if you hadn’t mentioned it, Herman colored phones never would have been designed.)

62 comments

  1. I love these “Top Ten Things” of yours. They are so informative. This one especially. Well done!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Andrew. High praise indeed. 😁

      Like

  2. Didn’t know about #7. How did you know who to call if you couldn’t dial?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You gave the operator the number and she placed the call.

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      1. Got it. Do we still have human operators?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup. Just punch 0 on a landline. Ernistine is there.

        Like

  3. Does it come in colours! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gwen Plano · · Reply

    1947? Wow. I would have guessed the early 1980s, but what do I know! 😀 Thank you for another fun read, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cell service was in the 80’s. This was a mobile service but you are right. I thought the same. Thanks, Gwen.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And simply do not call …because if you’ll do 😱😱😱

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I learned something here…1947, who knew? And here I thought I was a trendsetter in the 1980’s with my “car phone” that was in a zipped up case. Number 4 cracked me up! Nice job, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill. You were a trendsetter. The first cell phone customer in Chicago was in 1983 so you weren’t far behind.

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  7. I didn’t realize the first one took up the whole truck – it’s a good thing I’m not one for talking on the phone! To this day, I don’t have one, my better half does. I just don’t want to be found quite that easily! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why not having a phone does not surprise me, GP? 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haha, ah you know me so well!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I miss landlines.

    The thing is, the old phones lasted forever. Now it feels as if we change our phones every six months or so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It does seem that way for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still have an old rotary phone. I don’t use it, of course. But I like to pull it out from time to time and just revel in it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. All twenty pounds of it. Ha haha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I curl with ’em. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I still have one!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My goodness. A landline or rotary phone?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Landline!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We had one until Hurricane Harvey blew it away. We never went back.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hah! I have trouble letting go…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I like the fact that calls didn’t get dropped. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      6. And still don’t!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Had no idea the first mobile phone came out so early. Another good one, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Teri 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I had no idea those phones in the trunk went back so far. Now I’m remembering the “fake” antennae people put on their cars to try and fool people into thinking they actually had one. Still, they took a while to really arrive. When I was in high school, the must-have phone accessory was the fifty-foot-long cord, so teenagers could pull the family phone into their bedrooms and shut the door!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember those days. My kids were always complaining about privacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ll wait until I can get one in my shoe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. And I thought a flip phone was out of date! (I sure miss mine.) Imagine trying to take a picture with one of those oldies or trying to fit it in your back pocket. Too funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha ha. At 75 pounds I would think it a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah, we’ve come a long way baby! Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we have. Thanks, Jan 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ha-ha-ha! Very funny, dear John! So long ago 1947 no one could have imagined that the world of the 21st century would have become addicted to a piece of glass (smartphone) with an image of a gnawed apple!

    Like

  15. Ha! No worry about me being first in line for one. I don’t have the patience to be a guinea pic and work through the bugs.

    Isn’t it amazing how far the telephone has come in just 72 years! I’m so glad we color choices, and really neat cases and accessories for them too.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. How things have changed! The inauguration of mobile phones in ’47 was before my time, so where did travelers put their luggage (if the entire trunk was packed with phone equipment??) I don’t guess I’ll ever forget “hiding” in the closet as a teen in the attempt to get a bit of “privacy” when friends would call. The lucky kids had phones in their rooms!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember it well. Thanks, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. This was really fun, John. Unlimited talk and text had me laughing out loud. I enjoyed learning about the first mobile phone, too. 1947 and 75 pounds- who knew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Jennie.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Great list, John. 75 pounds? Yikes! I thought the bag-phones were bad in the late 80s. Oh well, I guess it was easier to transport after Tiny was done with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was only two pounds of scrap.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. 😂These are priceless, John. Is Tiny dating anyone special these days? Just asking.😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll give him your number, Soooz. Ha haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I thought my father was all that and a bag of chips when he had his mobile phone back in the ’70’s. I had no idea they were around, so to speak, so much earlier!
    Cool list as per.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool that your dad had one, Dale. His version was probably much more improved over the early ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah… just a suitcase 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Good advice, John. If a time traveler asked any of those questions in the late 1940s or showed a questionable card, he’d probably be accused of being a Communist and not get out of prison until sometime in the late1950s. That is unless he nearly dies in the electric chair for spying. 😦 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good thing we know how to behave on time travel. Right? Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Another epic “Top Ten: Time Travel Edition”.
    Well done, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Hook. 😀

      Like

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