Though the technology of Cell phone was developed in the Forties of last Century, it was not until the mid-Eighties that they became easily available. Early devices/instruments were not only heavier; they had the propensity to consume more power. The available network also could take the load of only a few selected conversations. Bell Labs was credited to inaugurate the first mobile service in USA on 17.06.1946. Soon AT&T followed suit. Calls were set up manually by an operator and the user had to press a button on the handset to talk. He/she had to release the button to listen. To begin with, the equipment would weigh 36 kgs and the coverage area too was restricted. Now it is small enough to carry in a purse or pocket and use anywhere.
The introduction of cellular technology allowing reuse of frequencies many times in a cluster kind of situation covered by low powered transmitters made widespread adoption of cell phones economically viable. Prior to 1973, mobile technology was limited to phones installed in cars and other vehicles. Motorola was the first company to produce a hand held mobile phone. With the passage of time, advance mobile phone system (AMPS) was commercially introduced in USA in October 1983, followed by Israel in 1986 and Australia in 1987.
Thereafter it was the turn of the 2G system and prepaid mobile phones in the early Nineties. In 1993, IBM Simon is supposed to have introduced the world’s first smart phone having features, such as, mobile phone, pager, fax, calendar, address book, clock, calculator and a touch screen.
The first internet service through mobile phones was introduced by NTT DoCoMo of Japan in 1999. The same company went on to launch 3G system in October 2001.
THE INDIAN SCENE
Cell phone came to India with a bang by 1998-99. Underlying, if not all pervasive idea was to facilitate communication when one was away from home or office. The handy, portable and tiny object was expected to free us from any taste or preference. Due to high costs involved (when even incoming calls were charged) in the beginning, it took time to gather momentum. Initially, therefore, it was restricted to a few selected cities catering to the high and mighty. In no time, it began spreading like a virus. AND now we are among the top five nations when it comes to fiddling with the numbers or ‘touching the screen’.
Apart from successive reviews by the Union Government and lowering of rates by the Cell companies with a gigantic market in mind, mobile became a mass product. Its potential to be a golden goose to generate revenue was realised very soon. While cells were instrumental in reducing mental and physical distance, a new breed of white liars, if not the strategic ones, too began emerging on the horizon. False assurances became order of the day apart from encroaching upon one's valuable time as well as privacy. The other person simply does not know most of the time as to when is the right time to converse or disturb. Self interest only matters. If our job is done, we mostly ignore or switch off the set or divert the call, much to the discomfort of the caller at the other end. The tendency not to pick up unknown or unsaved numbers is also picking up rapidly. The impact of the waves emanating from the little wonder on the brain, hand or heart is still a subject matter of research. Interim findings keep surfacing.
No doubt cells help a great deal in emergencies, knowing welfare, giving a quick reaction or in breaking the time and distance barrier. Having vast memory and camera facility in hand is a remarkable asset. The fact, however, remains that at least in India we do not know how to talk less, forget about display of proper manners or etiquettes in a public place. Sometimes, public display of emotions (PDE) also takes place, often leading to noise pollution and unwanted disturbance. As compared to the Landline (as if cell is always off ground) cell also breeds restlessness and creates unnecessary confusions, frictions and rifts. Use of cell for sending SMSs than resorting to verbal conversations in public places in Japan could be thought of emulation in Indian situation.
The combination of call through cell and short message service, coupled with e-mail is simply unbeatable but the purpose should be and has to be positive. Every now and then their negative uses or connotations hit the headlines, be it bank frauds, kidnappings, smuglings, terrorism or any Cyber crime.
It goes without saying that mobile phones have already had a certain impact on our day to day lives. It has broken all caste, creed and class barriers. Who does not have cell, either for personal or business purpose or for the good of the community?.Those who cannot afford otherwise, such as, beggars in Mumbai, too take a recourse to it to avoid harassment by Police and toughies.
Use of the facility by the vegetables sellers, farmers or petty shop keepers for getting acquainted with comparative prices is a welcome trend. A priest also using the facility for keeping in touch with his patrons amuses. Whereas, the house wives making use of it for adding value to their regular exchange of experiences and gossip cannot and should not be avoided or ignored.
The cell phones also having negative impact on close and durable relationships cannot possibly be ruled out. The phenomenon of doubt multiplies and there is no cure for same in Medical Science. Some of the more dangerous uses could be while driving two/four wheelers or crossing road or railway lines. A number of individuals keep losing their lives in this manner. In the same way, recording conversations on cells without the knowledge of the other person is another emerging negative development. In some instances, it is facilitating suicides and other forms of unnatural deaths. The Internet addiction through Cell too adds to the misery, thanks to the easy availability factor.
Too much of expectation, courtesy this easy to grab facility results into quick dissatisfaction and a breeding ground for possible jealousy and hatred. Trust becomes the casualty. Dissemination of negative information or rumour mongering is also at a fast pace vis-a-vis letters or books, if some incidents of recent past are to be taken note of.
OWNER HOLDS THE KEY
The whole thing boils down to the person behind the machine. How one uses, or intends to use. Both desires and wishes need to be controlled. In the non-mobile era also things were happening, rather they were happening in a better and decisive way, perhaps, with less ambition, jealousy and animosity. Let us, therefore, use the facility for easing a process and try to avoid useless chats. Inculcation of a positive attitude should matter in the ultimate analysis.