My Mobile History

Since the world is going so mobile, I should write a little blurb about cell phones relates to me. This took nearly seven months to finally “publish” it…

I had 2 toy cell phones, the one that looks like a brick (I should go on eBay to find one again since the local thrift stores I’ve never run into them.) I’d bet it’s the size of an iPhone 6 because it was scaled to children. Another one posted below was a flip phone. I felt like the important person in recess in elementary school.

The history also includes my mother, where I ether got the sets handed down to play with or had used them rarely. My mother’s first mobile phone was the Motorola MicroTAC (Yes, the one that weighed like a brick, but yet it was “micro”.) It was used on a TDMA network used on the United States Cellular network (known at the time.) The phone service was very expensive because she would be charged for roaming fees. The idea of the phone pinging on other networks would be a strain on the network. Not only that, but cell networks were regional or borderline hyper local. Think of your RBOC and apply it to cell phones. In some cases just leaving your county would cause the phone to roam on another network and get charged for it. One of the cost avoidances was to completely turn it off.

The reason why roaming is now non existent is due to consolidation.

By the late 90s, most regional bell operating companies or RBOCs had operated their own cell phone networks, the problem was if you lived in Manhattan and had  NYNEX and went into Jersey in Bell Atlantic territory, you could’ve been dinged for going into their network, and be charged tons of money as I already stated. Also I am assuming New York Tel and New England Tel were on different networks or had different plans despite being the same RBOC (correct me if I am wrong.)

Cingular Wireless was a formation of most of SBC’s customers (Pac Bell, Southwestern Bell, Bell South, SNET Mobile in Connecticut,  etc.) Verizon Wireless would form from most of the East Coast companies as I explain below

By 1998, my mother through her then boyfriend acquired a newer TDMA cell phone through Bell Atlantic/NYNEX Mobile. Within a year (if memory serves me) the name was then changed to Verizon Wireless. At the time the sales people at the owned-and-operated shops pronounced it as if it rhymed with Amazon. Well we know today how its supposed to be pronounced! 🙂  I remember Verizon Wireless naming coming before the wireline merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic, and a long line business I forget off the top of my head that could’ve been GTE too.


My mother would then get their StarTAC (that one would logically assume would be “micro”.) Anyways that followed up with another variant of a Motorola flip set.  By 2000, my mother went to SunCom, that later became part of that AT&T Wireless service (the Ma Bell rendition.) That phone was similar to the one above, just a new model for her new carrier. In 2001, the name became AT&T and owned that phone for several years. (Surprisingly the phone could receive SMS messages, but she couldn’t send out. In 2003/04, AOL’s AIM messaging service allowed people to send messages from their AIM accounts to mobile devices. Just don’t write a “book” on these things!)

She would go with an upgrade in 2004, this time it was through Cingular Wireless (formerly the regional networks of SBC), well known at the time for “rollover minutes”, any unused airtime could be accrued over to the following billing month. By this point we became nobodies, and we accrued so many unused minutes, that I believe some were purged. She would get this GSM based LG feature phone.


By 2006, my first real cell phone came to be for Christmas of that year. This time it was the LG CU-400, a camera flip phone with a XML web browser and up to a megabyte of bandwidth for the billing period. (Oh how have things changed!) By this point AT&T became the brand name albeit it was just random initials that appeared to be the former Ma Bell. “The new AT&T” masquerading as SBC by the end of 2006 bought out Bell South, that owned a stake Cingular. Following the the 2005 buyout of AT&T by SBC, they wanted to nix the Cingular brand, but Bell South said no, but a year later they got their way and nixed the brand. (Then I had to explain my mother that the present AT&T had nothing to do with the AT&T brand when she had it just 4 years prior…thanks AT&T, ahem SBC!)

By the following year, I was lucky enough to be upgraded to a BlackBerry Curve, 8310. I loved my BlackBerry, despite being complicated and complex and not the best user friendly relationship that I would have with other phones. Regardless, I’ve had BlackBerry devices from 2007 to Christmas time 2011, for 4 years. I had upgraded to 3 other devices over that time (the Pearl was like a 1 night stand, I didn’t like half keyboards.) After a week with it, I demanded a new Curve.IMG_7689

I’ve always been an Apple guy, with an off and on again relationship. To this moment I’d say its “Complicated” because I don’t know what IT company is worse, Apple or Microsoft. By the time I got by ‘Berry, I just had gotten a MacBook for my 20th birthday present to myself earlier that year. It was the first gen 64bit white colored model. It was prone to hardware problems and OS X Tiger was laughable in functionality (and reliability.) Factor that the iPhone had mixed reviews, I was proud to show off the ‘Berry to Apple Store personnel.

2011 came and I seemed to make tons of typos on the ‘Berry. I never upgrade to the latest and greatest for software but I wasn’t sure how the core operating system could run without some updates. The irony is that I typically wait for updates because in the IT culture, patches are to cover up previous patches, and so on. I started to settle with the iPhone. Apps seemed to be the it-thing, and sure enough I jumped on the bandwagon.  So did my mother, who then went from a CU400 to a Motorola Karma in about 2009. It’s a feature phone with a hard keyboard. Kinda like the BlackBerry but still a cell phone. My mother had to take time to reteach her nails to type on a screen and not a tactile button.  People loved my mother’s Karma because few people had them and many people were impressed with them; but sadly it wasn’t on the market for long. (Thank Carl Icahn for forcing them to sell to Google for them to in turn sell this legendary company to Lenovo – of all companies!)

My third major mobile device was the iPhone 4S on the Verizon network with a theoretical 8 gig storage. This was the first time we went back to them post year 2000. We already had an account with them for a USB modem for wireless teleworking for me the year before. By this point we added two numbers. My mother ported her number through the standardized practice; but I decided against it. The last numbers ending with 5652 had to be depreciated. Memories with friends, acquaintances, partners, etc were long gone in my life. Supposedly the NPA number is supposed to be for ATT/Cingular but the number had to be ported over before changing  it. So Verizon has at least two NPAs from a competitor. What’s interesting in my state is that they often look up customers in the last 4 digit telephone numbers because numbers like 490 is virtually blocked entirely for Verizon Wireless in New Hampshire to use an example. But what happens when you have a ported number??? Well anyways.


After the Scott Forestall scandal at Apple, I never upgraded my iPhone’s OS, only up to 5.1.something. This was when I was getting skiddish with Apple again. I don’t trust “new” things other than it will bring headaches. Apple had released its controversial release of OS X Lion earlier that summer. I believe he left when Hurricane Sandy came because the story (to use a pun) was swept away by the New York business press.

Regardless, the phone is in decent condition and served my needs up until 2015, when apps would suddenly stop working because they push out code that is dependent to iOS. Starbucks, the Xfinity Connect (even Instagram) would just stop working. The future is on apps (but they call it “native”) but I always preferred designing apps on web based platforms so it could work on not just any device, but any version instead. I’ve settled on the post iOS 7 design. There was class in the previous versions. Something Apple knew well until Sir Hardware God, Jonny Ive came along.

I had to jump in and then finally got an iPhone 5s with 16 gigs (enough to store future operating systems at least till iOS 11.) The ability to run modern apps without breaking; and a pretty good camera too. My old iPhone 4 runs as an iPod touch, however it still acts as a phone because its lack of a SIM card. If I had an AT&T phone and took out the GSM card, supposedly the phone would literally become an iPod Touch and I believe it would identify itself as one. This iPhone 4 was actually the first generation CDMA sets, and you can’t change the firmware to function as an iPod touch. It can still be reached out to a cell tower to likely place a 9-1-1 call.

My mother has the iPhone 6, I had no interest with a fat phone, then give me that brick phone from a kid for gawd sake’s alive! The only complaint with the iPhone 5 is it’s smaller width. That fraction of the inch has created more typos and fat/cold finger mistakes than the original iPhone 4. The landscape (eh “pager mode”) works on some apps, not so for others…



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