General Question

lilakess's avatar

When did the general public start using cell phones?

Asked by lilakess (779 points ) February 3rd, 2007
What year? What city? Were there some people who had them first?
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15 Answers

nomtastic's avatar
they definitely gained popularity outside of the u.s. first. *everyone* in israel had one when i lived there in 1997, but they weren't popular in the bay area (which was one of the first) until at least 2000.
andrew's avatar
Only a few people in college had them in 2000, but 2001 they were ubiquitous.
sjg102379's avatar
Don't forget, though, that Zack Morris had a giant one on Saved By the Bell by the mid-1990s, so they were certainly in use by early adaptors much earlier than the 21st century. As were car phones.
samkusnetz's avatar
1997 was when radioshack started selling sprint pcs cell phones. it was the combination of the dramatic improvement in service (digital technology plus very small cells) plus the cheap, approachable, everyman manner of selling the phones at a lowest common denominator store like radio shack, that really did the trick. my parents both had cell phones by 1998, i had mine in 2000, and like andrew says, they were everywhere by 2001.
samkusnetz's avatar
(update!) i remember now, my dad used to work or nbc news and they gave him a cell phone in about 1989 or 1990. it weighed something like eight pounds. he hated it, and made them give him a headset because it was iving him tennis elbow.
omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar
nomtastic is right, EVERYONE in israel (ages 7-8 and up) has had a cell phone since about 1997. i am here now and it's shocking to walk down the street and see such tiny kids walking and talking on their cell phones.
kelly's avatar
I had a "walkie-talkie" size portable phone that was carried in a holster in 1995. Earlier I had a bag phone that I used in my car that used the cig lighter and had a magnetic antenna on the roof. Car phones (early ones were radio phones) more properly, portable phones first appears to civilians in the early 50's
vered4's avatar
In 1994...in Atlanta, at least, Pac Tel was GIVING away the Motorola Flip-phone...thick gray thing that literally EVERYONE had because they were FREE with service... PacTel turned into AirTouch which turned into Verizon. I got my first cellphone in 1993. Bag phones were pretty popular for a few years PRIOR to this...they were cheap ($99 back then was cheap) and were good for emergencies IN your car. I knew people who had phones installed in their cars as early as 1990....when they were called CARphones! Once they became smaller and more portable...the name changed to mobile phones and cellphones! WHO had one the earliest? WHAT year??
Mike's avatar
Chicago's Ameritech, one of the so-called "Baby Bells" launched America's first commercial cellular phone network in 1983. Prior to then, mobile phone frequencies generally were not divided into local "cells," so only a few dozen people could have mobile phones in any given city. Even in 1983, cell phones cost close to $3,000 and service plans averages $150 per month, so they didn't exactly take the country by storm. Still, as far back as 1987, cell phones were popular enough that the New York Times reported that "everyone from drug dealers to taco vendors" owned them. By 1992, handset prices fell below $200 and the mainstream success of the technology truly took off.
anyer's avatar

i think ever since when a mobile phone (cell phone) become popular and easy get, 1998??
see here for cellphone history

nicoleanna69's avatar

I had one in 89 I still have it !! Believe it or not it was a hugh phone with a cord n its bag with the battery ! I use to take it to the beach with me . Yes it was the funniest thing I even have a picture of me using it !! It weighed a ton.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Sadie279's avatar

Seems like after Scream came out in 96’ cell phones started to become popular. I got my first cell phone in 2000. My mom had a cell phone in the early 90s.

petunia1354's avatar

We weren’t rich and we are always the last to have new technology as we have to wait for the price to come way down, but I remember having my 1st flip phone in 1995 or ‘96. So, if I had one it had to have been common place by 1995 in S. W. Florida—we are a small laid back community on Florida’s Gulf Coast—we are directly across the state from Miami. We live in Naples, Florida, so if phones were common here in 1995–6, then they were common nation-wide by then ! Best Wishes, Barb

mjmphillips's avatar

We bought the Motorola bag phone when they first came out in 1983, they were very expensive and the cell bills were very expensive to have too at the time, but we were glad to have it… We have had cell phones ever since, when the Brick came out we traded up for the brick! We are still with US Cellular and have an excellent plan even today. There was a very short time that we had Verizon and their commercial was very appropriate (“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW”) because that is what we were always saying at the time and we were not laughing! All though we did when the commercial came out, but by that time we had switched back to US Cellular. It has come to the point now that you have to have a cell phone just to survive and that is crazy.

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