Geek Retrospectives

Flashback to fifteen years ago

Fifteen years ago I wore a Seiko wristwatch. It was given to me by my legendary Uncle Kevin (UK in the UK), about a decade before.

Fifteen years ago I didn’t carry a camera routinely. I had a 35mm Kodak one that my mum had given to me. I It was heavy, had no zoom, but reliable. (I suspect it’s still around somewhere.)

Fifteen years ago I carried a diary. A basic Filofax clone, which I think was another great gift from UK in the UK. It also had phone numbers and addresses in it.

Fifteen years ago I had a payphone card. Provided I knew the number (or had written it down) I could phone anybody when I wanted from any payphone.

Fifteen years ago I didn’t play computer games when away from home. I’d had a couple of Game & Watchs in high school — Donkey Kong Junior and Donkey Kong II — but by the 90s, they were long gone.

Then in 1994 I got a mobile phone. The first was an Ericsson GH198, and at the time hardly anybody had a mobile phone, and you could choose some pretty good phone numbers. Mine ended in the numbers 326435 – or DANIEL. (I’ve changed it since, which memorably caused my departing phone company to send me a bill for three cents.)

And gradually the mobile phone (or to be accurate, subsequent models) took over from the diary, camera and game. Eventually I even stopped carrying a wristwatch.

I can barely remember what life was like before I had a mobile phone.

Until yesterday, when I left it at home accidentally. It’s happened on occasions before. And each time, I feel more naked without it. Some might feel liberated from it for a day. Not me, I felt isolated. Despite having ready access to email and web — including my appointments in Google Calendar — through the day.

Of course, I can ring the number and wait for the voicemail greeting, then press # to check the messages. Though it took about half a dozen goes to remember the PIN, which had me worried that I might really be cut off from the world.

Somehow, I managed to survive a full 10 hours without it. But I won’t leave it behind again, if I can help it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “Flashback to fifteen years ago”

I filled out a survey recently about mobile phones. There was no room for comments, but mine would have been something along the lines of needing to be surgically removed from my mobile. It feels really strange to be without it for any length of time.

Wow, some very old mobile phones here Daniel. I remember those type of phones. It is amazing how far development of mobiles have come, now you can do everything with them.

So….. even brand new….. how long did the battery on that mobile last before it needed charging??

I always feel the cool mobile phone technology isn’t with us yet – a bit like copper (I forget his name) from Life on Mars must have felt. The phone needs to be in the watch. I live for the day when Seiko bring out an old-look hip watch that has an in-build phone, camera etc. We will look back on these days and laugh.

I know what you mean about phones, but it’s e-mail I now feel disconnected without. I took a day off Monday and forced myself not to look at it (too much work stuff). It took most of the day before I felt calm about not checking it!

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