The Cell Phone Killed…Well…Lots of Things

Posted by admin on January 16th, 2009

We all know that a cell phone isn’t really just a phone anymore (c’mon, you’ve seen the Sprint commercial I’m sure). It takes our pictures, sends and receives our emails, plays our MP3s and it even keeps track of our hectic lives with advanced calendar functions.

Yes, a cell phone isn’t just a phone.  But before there was this all-encompassing smartphone, we turned to other gadgets to take our pictures, send our emails, play our music and keep track of our personal calendars.

What were these gadgets?  Gadget Lab recently reported the five devices“killed” by today’s cell phone.  After an explosion of responses, the blog shot off even more gadgets replaced by the cell phone.

So here are all 12 of the replaced gadgets. Have they moved on to that better place?  Check your closet.  I’m sure you’ll find some of them collecting dust in there.

  1. PDA- When you have your contacts, addresses, numbers and calendars all in one place, why get a PDA to hold the exact same data?
  2. Camera- Cameras on phones are becoming more and more advanced.  Have you seen a picture taken with the iPhone? Remarkable.  The best part?  You always have it on you.
  3. Landline- Although the big operators will still pressure you into purchasing a phone line with your cable and Internet package, don’t give in.  If you’ve got a cell phone and a decent minutes plan, there is really no dire need for a landline.
  4. Web Browser- Why wait to surf the ‘Net from your computer when most phones today come equipped with a browser, giving you anytime, anywhere access to all the information on the World Wide Web.
  5. Instant Messenger- First came SMS text messaging allowing one person to send a short message from his phone to another cell phone.  Many of today’s mobile phones not only offer SMS text messaging and its multimedia cousin MMS for messages with photos and videos, but also come equipped with applications for popular instant messaging services.
  6. MP3 Player- With all of your music in one place, it’s more of a hassle now to lug around an MP3 player.
  7. Pager- With of course the exception to the medical field, no one can remember the last time they heard someone say “page me!”
  8. Wristwatch- You’ve got your time right on the front of your phone, why would you need it on your wrist as well?  Plus, if you have an even more advanced mobile you most likely have an alarm clock and timer, too.
  9. Pocket Calculator- The usage of these have become practically obsolete thanks to calculators coming standard on every cell phone.
  10. Satellite Navigation- Google Maps, anyone?
  11. Books – ’m still not completely sold on this one, but it would appear as though a massive number of cell phone users are reading from their mobile instead of the old fashioned dead-tree.
  12. Handheld Game Consoles- With all the games you can play on your phone now, what’s the point in spending more cash for yet another device to lug around?

And if you’ve ever wondered what happed to a lot of these gadgets you can be sure they have a home here at MuMoh.

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Music, man: The Philco and iPod as distance cousins

Posted by admin on November 18th, 2008

The Philco, a shortened version of The Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, was a pioneer in early radio and television and an early manufacturer of transistors, starting in 1953 with the famous Surface Barrier type (SBT).

The Philco in our collection originally belonged to Nancy Foltz (her name is still visible on the leather case) and is in remarkably good condition.  If you turn it just so, you can still pick up a pretty decent radio signal.  Not bad for a gadget pushing 50.

Compare that to when the first iPod was launched. Steve Jobs announced it as a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that put “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

I remember when I finally gave in and purchased my first iPod, albeit a mini (turquoise blue!), but nevertheless still an iPod.  I thought it was the most revolutionary piece of equipment to hit the market since the bread slicer.  Something tells me Nancy Foltz was thinking the same thing back in 1959.

Now with my 120GB sixth-generation iPod, I consider myself at the forefront of portable media technology, but also still scratching my head at how familiar the Philco transistor looks.

A while back BBC News reported on these same similarities in an article comparing the Regency TR-1 transistor radio to the iPod mini.

If you put the two side by side, they look incredibly similar; same rectangular shape and roughly the same length.  Of course the iPod is lighter, but not by too much.  Both offer (or offered) a multitude of colors with accompanying cases.  I guess when you think back to technology 50 years ago, you’d expect it to be far more different. Here’s a line-up of an iPhone and the Philco:

Not exactly what you would call uncanny.

So next time you cruise the streets with your latest and greatest MP3 player, just try not to get too caught up in your trendy ways.  Because let’s face it, Nancy Foltz was doing the same thing 50 years ago with a device that looked just like yours.

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Mobility technology meets pop culture

Posted by admin on November 14th, 2008

We’re culture junkies here at MuMoH. Not only do we live and breathe mobile and wireless but we also enjoy the history of a wide range of topics, including politics, local and national history, punk and new wave music and general pop culture.

Sometimes these cross paths and make for an interesting mash-up of technology and culture.  For instance, we were surfing YouTube for a Flintstone’s clip and came across an entire episode called “Swalkie Talkies.”

Now, if you’re a true pop junkie like us you will realize that this is the later Flintstones from the early 1970s when Pebbles and Bam Bam are teenagers and the show was a bit “groovier” than the original. But no matter – the content is still very relevant to our world.

How? The gist: Bedrock citizens obtain walkie talkies [OK, so they’re not cell phones – this WAS prehistoric times remember] and hilarity ensues.

We love it when we find mobile technology in the least likely places, like an old copy of the Flintstones someone actually videotaped from their TV screen and posted on YouTube.

We’ll be posting more as we find them [here’s a hint: Inch Eye Private Eye and Dick Tracy both utilized mobile technology before there was cell phone usage].

Where are some unusual movies or even cartoons you’ve seen a mobile phone or mobile technology featured? Ping us and we will post.

Enjoy the clip.

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The Y2K that wasn’t

Posted by admin on June 19th, 2008

MobHappy’s Russell Buckley has a wonderful post that points to a presentation from 2000 that forecasts the future of mobility. Some of the technology:

  • Wireless headset? Check.
  • Pocket MP3 player? Check.
  • Digital camera with built-in modem? Close.
  • Glasses for watching DVD movies? Not quite yet – though on the way – we saw one at CTIA last April.

Slides from a presentation given by O2 – just a mere eight years ago — also show a mock-up of a mobile worker [done tongue in cheek but still pretty spot on] and how users will be using mobile devices.

Our museum is chock full of mobile devices that look like they’re from two decades ago but in reality are only a few years old. Years from now I suppose my toddler will get a nice chuckle at the expense of my iPhone [“You had to use your finger to move text?”].

Any guesses on where the mobile space will be in 2016?

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Mattel Football

Posted by admin on May 16th, 2008

Football was released in 1977 and it was labeled either Football or Football I depending on the date the game was released. This was the second game released by Mattel (Auto Race was the first) and sold through Sears. After less than 100,000 were made, Sears (using a computer model based on initial sales figures) determined that the games would not be big sellers, and most of the production for Football and Auto Race was stopped. Sears was definitely proven wrong. Within six months, it became obvious to that their prediction was false, and production was started up again and reached record levels.

Mattel FootballThe game was played by using direction keys to run a blinking red dot through a maze of defensive dots. A kickoff would result in a chirping version of the “Charge!” melody. A simple game and quite prehistoric when compared to the handheld games of today, the Football game was for football and football only. As for sound, it was dominated by bleeps and blips and it ran on a single 9V battery.

The game had two levels of play: Pro 1 and Pro 2. The graphics were all red lit dots and the player was the brightest of the six. The object was to get across the screen without getting tackled by the five remaining dots – a simple concept, but not easily accomplished.

Though its lack of true passing and inability to let the player run backwards limited the games overall realistic feel, it offered a compelling challenge to a generation quickly becoming fascinated with electronic entertainment. In fact, the game was re-issued by Mattel in 2000 thanks to its overwhelming popularity in the ‘70s.

The MuMoH physical collection includes an actual working model from 1977.

References:
http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Mattel/FB.htm
http://www.bigredtoybox.com/articles/fbindex.shtml
http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9913124-1.html
http://www.thocp.net/software/games/golden_age.htm

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The Game Boy

Posted by admin on May 16th, 2008

The Game Boy was the first cartridge-based gaming system to allow up to four players to be linked through serial ports on their own systems for multi-player fun. The compact video game system manufactured by Nintendo was released in 1989 in the U.S. and Japan. The Game Boy was the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi, former creator of the UltraHand, an expanding arm toy made and sold in 1970.

The Game Boy ran on a CPU with integrated sound generation and allowed users to pop in different cartridges, known as Game Paks, to play a variety of different games. Yokoi designed the Game Boy to be a small, inexpensive entertainment device in which the cartridge would provide the data, logic and rules of the game to the processor.

Originally sold with the puzzle game Tetris, Game Boy soon developed many games for their system, including sports, action and fantasy games, available for around $15 a pop. The most popular Game Boy games include: Tetris, Zelda, Mario Brothers and, more recently, Pokemon. The system itself cost around $90 in 1989 and ran in four shades of “gray” which appeared as green to dark green.

Eventually, Game Boy developed the Game Boy Color, making games viewable in additional colors, and in 1995, the company produced a rainbow of colored cases for their systems. Since then, Game Boy has released several versions of their original system, including the Game Boy Advanced and Game Boy Evolution.

Other Game Boy-related products include the Game Boy Camera which was released in 1998 with the Game Boy printer, which allowed users to print black and white, low resolution photographs.

The MuMoH physical collection includes an early 1990s version of the Game Boy.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_Boy
http://www.vidgame.net/NINTENDO/GB.html

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MoPR Mobility Minute: Highway Hi-Fi

Posted by drjohnnyspin on November 4th, 2007

Because of the show Rock Star: INXS (soon to be a subject of another post), I started uploading lots of 80s music to my iPod. A friend asked me if I liked INXS back in the 80s, and I responded, “You bet I did! I had all their cassettes!”Cassettes were awesome! You weren’t just restricted to listening to albums, but you could easily record your own playlists, like a real disk jockey! Most of these custom cassettes were recorded one at a time, painstakingly in the order of how we wanted to hear them – at least at the time we made the recording. Remember how cool it was when someone invented the fast-forward feature that could stop in the silence between the end of one song and the beginning of the next? That allowed us to fast-forward over the song we regretted accidentally putting on the tape.

But to enjoy my music collection in my car meant bringing with me something that resembled a suitcase, which I had keep stashed underneath the passenger seat whenever I parked the car. If you had a car in the 1980s, you also had that suitcase – don’t lie, of course you did. We all did. Anything smaller than that suitcase would limit you to some unsatisfyingly small number of cassettes (some older folks remember the steamer trunk sized container of 8-tracks they had to lug around to enjoy their music collection in their vans back in the 70s).

The advent of CDs reduced the suitcase to a “wallet” or even a smaller collection fanned across the back of a sun visor. When CDs became recordable, man that was revolutionary! We still painstakingly recorded songs one at a time to create our own playlists, but at least the music was digital.

The thing is, people have always wanted to bring the entertainment media they enjoy along for the ride. It’s all about having anything you want, anytime you want it, anyplace you are.

Chrysler Motors knew this, even way back when. In 1956 they teamed with CBS to create the “Highway Hi-Fi” – an under-dash phonograph that played vinyl records at a super-slow 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. The slow speed allowed a small disc to pack up to an hour of entertainment on each side. Special mechanical engineering reduced the number of times and distance the needle would skip across the disc as the car drove over bumps in the road.

Technology really didn’t catch up with Chrysler’s vision until the invention of the iPod. The iPod lets you carry with you virtually your entire multimedia library wherever you go.

Now cars come equipped with iPod-ready sound systems. You can control your iPod from the steering wheel as the device sits in the cradle getting charged. Of course satellite radio is there for those times when you grow tired of the 60 megabytes of music you have stored on your iPod. And just in case, the theater-quality surround sound works great with the built-in DVD player (with a cartridge to keep multiple DVDs ready to play).

If only there was a way to listen to INXS in the front while the kids watch Sponge Bob in the back…

Reposted with permission © 2006 Mobility Public Relations

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