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Jun 13, 2019 in Analysis

The 80s the Decade that Made Us

Introduction

It is difficult to imagine the modern world without planes, trains, cars and other benefits of civilization, and it is hardly understandable how people could get along without mobile phones and computers earlier. The importance of mobile phones is unquestionable; however, it is rather interesting to investigate and compare the value of this resource back in the 1980s and in contemporary life. Invention and implementation of a cell phone in the 1980s gave a start to a new era of digital technologies in the human life that became a subject of significant influence on people nowadays.

For current generation, computers, smartphones and mobile phones are essential for connection with the rest of the world. Human interests are also changing due to this fact. People started taking pictures of themselves, the food they eat and clothes they wear. Blogging and self-interviews are becoming more and more popular, making it a job for some people and bringing them a significant income. The days when phones were just a means of voice communication are gone as nowadays mobile phones are able to do almost everything.

Phones are used not only for voice communication but also to communicate in video chats, create conferences and presentations. With the help of a mobile phone one can shoot a video, take pictures of friends and family, work, learn and play. With the development of digital technology, globalization of the network and its availability, the interest to real world becomes lower among people who use mobile technologies.

Addiction to technologies and gadgets nowadays has power to change the flow of history. The best example of such influence was the story of Apple Company, which gained popularity and is one of the most desirable brands on Earth. Moreover, in the time when the company made its jump in the market, its stock price continued to increase, and Apple's market cap climbed above $623 billion at that time (May). The production of iPhones promoted a significant financial growth of Apple.

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Importance of Cell Phone in 1980

Even some 15 years ago a person needed to go home and call landline or look for the nearest phone booth and have either coins or tokens for the call in order to speak to somebody on the distance. If the person was outside, in the street, and urgently needed to call the ambulance or firefighters, it was necessary to shout out loud in hope that someone will hear him or her from the nearest houses and make a call or one had to run fast and look for the phone booth to make a call. Children always had to visit their friends and personally ask whether they will go for a walk or not as many houses did not have a phone. Now, one can make a call anywhere in the globe from virtually any location. A mobile phone provides people with freedom to communicate, no matter where a person is.

Mobile telephony has a short but impetuous story. In the 1980s mobile phones were available only to people of significant wealth, predominantly businessmen, who needed and could afford paying significant costs to have a mobile connection. It is remarkable to see the episode from the movie Wall Street depicting the period of mid-80s, when Michael Douglas who played an influential figure on Wall Street sits down into a luxury limousine and is speaking over a mobile phone. However, at that time a mobile phone was a rather heavy and bulky apparatus. It is important to point out that “The original cell phone, developed by Motorola in the early 1980s, was a brick weighing 2 lbs. It provided a half-hour of talk time for every charge and sold for $3,995” (Oppenheim 12). This was a promising start for the future cell phone technology development. 

In about fifteen years cellular phones weigh less than 70 grams and fit easily into a jacket pocket or purse. The price for cell phones is more than affordable. Moreover, apart from phone calling, it has taken up a lot of other functions like accepting video calls, taking pictures and navigating people over the country and many more. At the same time, not every person in the world has a smartphone or even a cell phone. It is important to mention that, according to Oppenheim, the tendency to “choose a smartphone starts with taking inventory of what technology is being currently owned and used” (Oppenheim 12). Each person now has a possibility choose the smartphone according to his/her special needs and wants only necessary options to be present in the gadget. 

On April the 3rd 1973 the head of Mobile Motorola Company Martin Cooper, walking in the middle of Manhattan, 10 years before the appearance of commercial cellular phone, called his rival and said that he called from the street by using a manual cellular phone (Oppenheim 14). The first sample was similar to a pound brick 25 cm high and about 5 cm long and wide. Before the 1960s, many companies refused to carry out research in the field of mobile communication as they believed that it is impossible to create a compact cell phone. At that time, AT & T decided to develop a cell phone connected to car radios (Oppenheim 14). At first, a 12-pound device was placed in the trunk of the car, remote control and the handset in the cabin. For the antenna they had to drill a hole in the roof. Despite the fact that the owner did not have to carry weight in hands, the communication device did not reach significant commercial success.

The first commercial cell phone appeared on the market on the 6th of March 1983. On this day, Motorola introduced the DynaTAC 8000H unit, which was a result of 15 years of development, with the budget for investigations and development equal to more than $100 million (Finneran 18). The first mobile phone weighed much less than its prototype – 794 grams and was sold for three and a half thousand dollars. Despite a high price, the desire to be always connected to others encouraged a queue of thousands of Americans to buy DynaTAC 8000X. 

In 1983, there were 1 million cell phone subscribers, and in 1990 there were 11 million (Finneran 18). The spread of mobile technology makes this service more high-quality and affordable. As a result, according to the International Telecommunications Union, in 1995 there were already 90.7 million cell phone users in the world. The number of cell phone owners has grown more than 10 times in the next six years and reached 956.4 million. On September 2003 there were an estimated 1.29 billion cell phone users, and in early 2011 the number of mobile subscribers exceeded 5 billion people (Oppenheim 15). As it is seen from these facts, the number of cell phone users is constantly growing.

History repeats itself, which is clearly seen in the attitude of customers. For example, the first customers of Apple prefer having phones from the same company (May). The same tendency exists in other segments of digital technologies, including even games. Thus, despite the fact that it is possible to predict popularity of a brand in the games sphere for only four years ahead, specialists mention that Mario goes through time (Dudley-Nicholson). Besides, as it is mentioned in “80s Icons Back in the Game”: “Brand, however, predicts these original gaming figures will endure for another generation,” leaving behind Iron Man and Captain America and Thor that are popular nowadays (Dudley-Nicholson). The penetration of the 80s and its images into contemporary life is inevitable as people experience nostalgia and would like to bring emotions back. The best way to do that is to have something from the times that remind the best days of their life, and the 1980s have a lot of such phenomena.

It is important to mention that all high-tech innovations were originally launched in the military sphere. Only after extensive testing and usage, checking and running, these innovations were slowly penetrating to the civil sphere (Morris 40). The conquest of the market is the next aspect of attention and development of cell phone technologies. After all, speeding up communications to almost space speed compared with mail and even telegraph or telephone changed life and world principles in general, giving a possibility to obtain information as fast as possible. 

Cell Phone Value for People Today

Nowadays smartphone has replaced many items such as TVs, video or DVD players, telephones, books and even a pen. With the help of smartphone people can write books, talk to their friends, watch movies, listen to music and find information. It is virtually impossible to imagine contemporary world without smartphones.

Even 20 years ago a cell phone was a luxury. Now it is hard to imagine life without this small but smart device. Children start learning from the early years how to use a telephone, which greatly simplifies the life of their parents who can always be in touch with their children. Adults use phones to maintain relationships with friends who live in another city or country, communicate with relatives and business partners. Phones and smartphones greatly simplify human life and save time and money. Using a phone, one can get information or cancel an appointment without leaving the house.

Cell phones have been constantly improving since their inception. In 1993 there was introduced the first cell phone with a built-in clock (Morris 42). Three years later Siemens began the production of phones with a voice recorder and a color display. However, there were only three colors on such displays. In 2000 the first mobile devices with a built-in camera came on the market in Japan. Around the same time, there appeared phones with a built-in mp3-player. In 2001, cell phones with a platform that supported Java appeared in production (Morris 42). This enabled devices to install a variety of different applications. Among them is the famous instant messaging service - ICQ. The first mobile with Bluetooth technology was released by Ericsson in 2002 (Morris 42). This technology made it possible to exchange data between different phones on a specific radio frequency without wires. 

 
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The phones should be located close enough to each other. Depending on the noise barriers, Bluetooth range is from 10 to 100 meters. At the same time, there appeared phones that support EDGE. This technology makes it possible to connect a mobile phone to the Internet at a fairly high speed. Development of EDGE technology overshadowed WAP technology that appeared earlier and allowed access to the Internet at lower speeds. The process of improvement of digital technologies continues today.

Today, mobile phones are increasingly replacing other devices. A clock, calendar, alarm clock, notepad and e-book – all these things are successfully combined in one device that is always at hand. With photo and video cameras integrated in the phone one can take pictures and make recordings. MP-3 player lets people listen to favorite music. With the help of a phone it is possible now to watch TV programs as TV shows became available through digital television services (Finneran 19). Mobile phone is able to replace even more sophisticated equipment.

Modern mobile phones are also able to perform computer tasks. Using smartphones and communicators, it is possible to create and edit documents of Microsoft Office, but on ordinary phones it is only possible to view them. In the presence of the connected services one can use the Internet via a mobile phone or a smartphone. In the future, it is predicted that the functions of a phone will spread and provide video communication with interlocutors. Such multi-functionality of mobile phones makes them one of the most important and irreplaceable devices in human life.

Each year, manufacturers of mobile technologies make huge profits. On average, people change their mobile phones once every two and a half years. And in most cases it happens not due to a fault or breakage but due to the fact that mobile technologies are not standing still and functionality is constantly increasing both qualitatively and quantitatively. Today a mobile phone is not just a means of communication, and some models of smartphones are as close as possible in their capabilities to computer and in some aspects even have properties superior to those of a PC. A mobile phone can act as a photo and video camera, an mp3 player, a device for reading and editing many file formats, a calendar, an address book, a notepad, an alarm clock and even more. Nowadays it is possible to increase the capability of a mobile phone by downloading and installing necessary software.

Over time, things change, and cell phones are no exception. On the contrary, their development happens at enormous pace. If at the beginning of its development, producers tried to make phones smaller and cheaper, today, reaching the decent performance, mobile phones became universal device changing people's attitude to mobile phones. Today, in case of leaving the cell phone at home, people feel uncomfortable. The inability to call relatives, friends or acquaintances gives a feeling of detachment from society. 

Although only a few years ago people could do without a mobile phone and found it an attribute of luxury. Mobile phones have a huge value for people nowadays. Obviously, it has long ceased to be simply a means of communication. Ordinary conversation on the phone is gradually becoming a secondary function, disappearing in a huge set of functions implemented by a mobile phone. People listen to music, take pictures, and play games using their mobile phones. The list of functions is endless. Thus, the mobile phone has become a multifunctional device that allows a person to use almost all modern technologies.

Today, the role of mobile phone in one's life is hard to overestimate. With this compact device at any time, one can quickly communicate with his/her relatives and friends, colleagues, in order to get the necessary information. One does not have to strain his/her memory to remember the phone of an old friend as cell phone with the list of contacts is always at hand. In addition to contacts stored in the phone people have a lot of other information – they write down their ideas and thoughts, credit card numbers, anniversaries dates and various files (Goggin 90). That is how phone replaces the notebook and flash-drive at the same time. Smartphones have now all sorts of useful software features, options, which are equipped in this small-sized multi-functional device.

Nowadays, the phone in peoples’ lives is not uncommon and not a luxury, though back in the 1980s it was hard to imagine that even small children will be walking with cell phones in their pockets. If someone told people in 1980s that in the nearest future phones will have touch screen, camera, video camera, radio, TV, internet, navigator and a flashlight this person would be considered as a crazy one. 

Mobile phone in human life is an indispensable tool, it brings benefits to those who value their time and not willing to spend it in vain. It is difficult to imagine how many people would spend time searching for things of sudden need, not having a smartphone in their pocket. The use of mobile phone is obvious - saving time and money. For business people usage of a cell phone gives ability to negotiate, come to an agreement with their partners at any time and in any place (Goggin 87). 

Mobile phone for some people is also significant part of their image. People buy certain models to show their belonging to some class. Of course, there is also quite the opposite facts, for example, it is possible to see a respectable man in a luxury car with an old phone model. But this is rather an exception than rule. Most of people prefer buying prestigious phones that belong to Apple Company. IPhone became a role model for most companies producing mobile gadgets. Apple has brought the culture of stylish and modern gadget that can satisfy demands of even the most demanding customer. 

Apple offers a unique design and comfortable use of the cell phone that has high speed of action and almost zero percent of mistakes. Besides business and everyday life cell phone can be useful for those who found themselves in an extreme situation (Goggin 46). Often, mobile phones are saving people’s lives, save them from danger and help finding solution in difficult situations. In recent years, cell phones have become an integral part of everyone’s life. This is not surprising, since high rhythm of life, realization of goals and objectives of everyday dictates the need to stay connected and have such a useful helper at hand.

Tremendous pace of cell phones development is also impressive as every day there are more and more new models. In fact, the functionality of mobile phones can meet any needs, and while purchasing one should define his or her priorities so as not to pay more for those features that will not be used because the latest technology in a mobile device can commensurate with a tidy price, which can be even higher than the average wage board. Sometimes a mobile phone serves as a kind of accessory, a symbol of self-assertion and a holder of any modern technological trends in certain circumstances, and a smartphone can be used for attracting attention in social circles.

Conclusion

In general, the 1980s determined further development of technology for humanity and achievements of this period of history still influence human life at a considerable level. Actually, cell phone is considered one of the most important inventions that changed the flow of history and is significantly changing it nowadays. With the development of mobile communication the society experienced significant changes. Some changes were positive, others were negative. People used to consider mobile phones to help them stay in touch with their relatives and friends. 

However, nowadays, social networks and mobile communication substitute normal real life communication. The 1980s achievements determined the growth of such company as Apple, which is a leading producer of smartphones nowadays. In fact, the 1980s made the society look the way it is nowadays. It is possible to conclude from the research that invention of a cell phone in the 1980s became an important start in the development of digital technologies in human life, which has a significant influence on people nowadays.

People nowadays can do everything they need using just a small advice in their pocket. Eventually massive phones experienced evolution and are not weighing 12 or more pounds as their weight is now measured in grams only. Smartphones help people in life having everything needed inside like calendars, clock, navigators, and various programs. They can be used instead of computers and substitute flash-drives and notebooks. Every school child had a phone to keep in touch with his parents and relatives. In general, it is hardly even imagine at least a single sphere of human activity that people were not using phones or computers. The cell phone sphere continues its developing and one can only guess what is waiting there in the future, what additional functions this small gadget can acquire and what equipment it will be able to substitute. 

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