Ma Bell would not be pleased


Do you have a landline phone in your house?

If you do, you are in the minority, as less than half of American households have a home phone. That includes me. My wife and I haven’t had a landline since probably 2006, when we moved to California. It was an unnecessary expense.

The landline will eventually go away for good, and I say good riddance. The phone company put the screws to people for decades, because it had a monopoly. If the phone company wanted to raise rates it usually got its way.

Now we have cell phones, and it seems that at least one telephone executive decades ago saw them coming. A friend of mine recently posted a story on Facebook (that I read on my phone, of course) from 1953 about a phone company executive with the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., who said that phones will eventually be carried by people and that we will be able to see each other as we talk.

Well, he was exactly right. Almost all of us carry a cell phone these days – include my father, who is up in his 80s. And we can use Facetime to see each other while we talk. Not that I like to do that. You ever talk to anyone on Facetime? Your own face looks like it is the size of a weather balloon.

No thanks.

It is strange how, even for a person like me who grew up well before the cell phone age, they have become indispensable. I didn’t get my first one until I was almost 40. I thought it was weird and unnecessary, but now can’t imagine my life without it.

A phone these days is much more than a communication device, of course. Ma Bell was used for talking with your friends, or sneaking in a late-night call to your girlfriend so your older brothers wouldn’t jump in on your call and verbally assault you, their perfect little brother (I am looking at you Cole and Jeff!).

A phone was bulky and you actually had to dial it and it eventually hurt your ear while you sat on it as a teenager saying pretty much nothing useful for hours on end.

Now I wonder how I got anywhere without a cell phone. Maps? Right there on my phone. That restaurant any good? Let’s check the reviews on my phone. Who directed the third “Rambo” movie? Let me check my phone. (For the record, it was Peter MacDonald. I found that information on the IMDB app on my cell phone).

We listen to music on our phones. We take pictures with our phones. We shoot videos of our dogs being incredibly adorable on our phones. I use the flashlight on my phone more than I would like to admit.

A cell phone is basically the high tech Swiss army knife of the current age.

It all makes me wonder what the future of this technology will bring. Will it diagnose illnesses? Will it include a defibrillator? Will it plug into our cars and drive for us?

I can honestly say that the future seems wide open. I might not be around to see it, but if we can stop from killing each other, we might see some pretty great things coming for this technology.

Some of you grew up with party lines, or homes with no phone at all. It is amazing to think how far we have come in a relatively short amount of time.