When I was a young man, my parents had a wall phone housed in a wooden box with a crank that you had to turn to make a call. The horn-shaped receiver with a cord attached to it hung on the side of the box.
All calls on the party line came in, each distinguished by how a series of beeps was arranged. Our “number” was 2 longs and a short.
Rubbernecking, or picking up someone else’s call and surreptitiously listening to their conversation, was common. Everyone did it but no one would announce their presence. You could often tell that someone else was on the line by their breathing.
I guess that’s how news got around, but it was eerie.
So in the early 80’s our office received a call from a contractor who was using a portable phone while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.
We were impressed to say the least.
Just 40 years later, almost 7 billion people now use a smartphone.