Your First Cell Phone Reveals A Lot About You

How old were you when you got your first cell phone? I remember the first "mobile phone" I ever saw up close was in my dad's 1982 BMW 528i. I was just a kid and I remember Dad demanding my brother and I be totally quiet as he negotiated real estate deals and we traveled around in his mobile office (very boring, all of it). I thought that car and phone were about the coolest thing on the planet and I desperately wanted my own car phone until he told us his monthly phone bill was in the hundreds of dollars.

"You gotta think pretty seriously about who you're calling when it costs you $2 a minute to listen to them rambling."

Point well taken, Dad. 

My first cell phone was a short, blocky Nokia 3310 that I bought in 2000. I remember that calling outside of my "home calling area" cost anywhere from $0.49 to $0.79 a minute, so one tended to limit unnecessary chit-chat. Texts were $0.10/each, so there weren't a lot of "lol" or smiley-face-only texts; it was all business back then.


When I ask my college students today what their first cell phone was, and how old they were when they got it, I invariable hear about handed-down phones as the students wax nostalgically about flip phones and slider phones and they start calling out names of particular models. It's like we're talking about a favorite record collection with kids from the 70s. 

I wonder the 12 year old who gets an iPhone 7 today (or more likely, the handed down iPhone 5 or 6). So much power in the palm of one's hand. Global distribution possibilities; so many social networks. And such a brilliant digital camera (especially when compared to those early 2-megapixel cell phone cameras I remember). 

When you got your first cell phone (and the type it was) establishes a marker of how you expect the world to come to you. I still marvel at the magic of the newest iPhone and I have a great frame of reference for how far it's all come when I think back on my dad's Motorola bolted down next to the emergency brake handle in that 80s BMW. What will the 12 year olds of today think in 30 years when they reflect back on their first cell phone? I predict they will make fun of that fact that you had to carry around a phone at all.