Dan Drezner reminisces:
Similarly, I lived in the South Side of Chicago when the handless cell phone got hot. Before its use, there already were a number of people talking out loud to no one around them. After its use, it was difficult at times to distinguish between the tech crowd and the… differently mentally abled crowd.
Actually, I can recall my own introduction to the handless mobile phone (as we call it this side of the Atlantic). That was in Sweden in the autumn of 1998 when I worked at Linköping University and commuted between Copenhagen and Linköping.
Now, Linköping was and is home to SAAB Aviation – not to be confused with the troubled car-maker – and lots of other engineering organisations so on the railway station the sight of men wearing suits and carrying suitcases while they were fixating their eyes on some point in the distance and discussing things into the thin air was pretty common – and rather unsettling to a Dane. It was only when you looked closer that you saw the tell-tale sign of the earphone cord attached to an Ericsson mobile phone. (Yes, back in those days, we didn’t have Bluetooth).
And by the way: In Swedish, a mobile phone is colloquially known as a “nalle”, i.e. “teddy bear”. The reason? Back in the 1980s when NMT mobile phones were big (by today’s standards) and expensive, only the yuppies were assumed to be able to afford one and when a yuppie held his phone to the side of the face, it looked just like a child holding a teddy bear.