Mobile @ 40

Mobile @ 40

Few other gadgets have changed the way lives are lived so quickly and so extensively as the mobile phone.

It has come a long way from the heavy, bricksized device costing thousands of dollars that a Motorola engineer held in his hand in front of the Hilton hotel in New York to make the first call to a researcher in Bell Labs 40 years ago.

Voice travelled without the aid of wires, in a way recapturing the conveyance technique of the primitive drummer in greater detail and with greater sophistication. From being the expensive luxury of the rich or a fad of the geek it has now become an essential accessory of life of the common man. Figuratively it is like holding the world in the palm when you hold a mobile in hand.

The listening and speaking device has mutated into a multitasking machine, with technologies ranging from the computers, photography, television and many others converging into it. It is also getting smarter with age, lighter and healthier against the norm of life and more handsome and sleeker by the day.

The social media ride on it and it catches the world in the worldwide web of news, rumours, passions and even revolutions. The mobile has empowered the ordinary person and is a landmark in the democratisation of the world. It is also a great equaliser as  the rich and poor, the young and the old and man and woman have access to it, high end or low end. In an age of gender oppression, it has a special role as a liberating tool for women.

The mobile phone came to India in the early 1990s and has since created a communication revolution, which was also part of an economic changeover. The social impact is unravelling and is still being studied and assessed.

The little handsets connect villages across the country, giving the users more freedom, independence and power, though they still have to reach many more millions of people.

The positives are all beyond question but there is a negative side also. There may be a greater threat to privacy, and mobiles can be misused to spread fear and panic and even create terror.

But the benefits far outweigh the negatives and the way forward for the mobile after the midlife birthday is only to get better and stronger.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)