Rachel Drinkwater @REDrinkwater
Sunday 13 March 2016 10:08GMT

When I moved in with my now husband, I enthusiastically unpacked half of my stuff, then got bored and left the other half neatly stacked in boxes in the spare room. We recently decided that we needed the space, so we started rummaging through the boxes. As I haven’t needed the contents of the boxes for the last three years, much of it found its way into an army of black bin liners destined for the charity shop, however one box intrigued me.

A very old mobile phone with flip-down keypad cover and aerialAmongst a spaghetti tangle of cables for retro games consoles and power cables for devices long forgotten, I found a veritable museum exhibition of devices. My Dad’s old Psion Series 3 from circa 1993 was in there, presumably still containing his diary entries and my high score at Patience. The later, Revo model I bought myself from Amazon in 2001, when Psion were in decline because the Palm Pilot was taking over the corporate world. I was on Industrial Placement and felt oh so professional with my clamshell handheld computer, with its 8MB of RAM and swish black and grey touch screen (an upgrade from the greenish-and-black screen of the older model).

There were a couple of Nokia phones in there; my beloved 3210 (in my opinion the cutest phone ever made) and the 7210, which I never really liked. Most of my other old mobiles I sold for cash to Envirophone when I upgraded, but I fondly remember my Motorola Rzr (the coolest-looking phone ever made) and v173. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, but I remember feeling like my mobile phone was an expression of who I was, a part of my cultural identity. Now it seems more that it’s what I do with my device – the content I produce, the comments I post, that are more important. Not being a huge fan of consumerism, I find this preferable.

It also got me thinking about obsolescence of technology. From my first Nokia in 2000, mobile technology has changed significantly. The most you could do with a mobile phone in 2000 was sift through a list of contacts, send an SMS and play Snake on a pixelated black and white screen. Subsequent models added new functionality; colour screens, more sophisticated games, polyphonic ringtones. And later still, low-resolution cameras were added and basic internet capability. It was around this time that the mobile phone stopped being just a phone and started being a multi-purpose device.

Now I use my smartphone daily to connect with friends, check the news, play games, browse the internet, check my health stats, send and receive emails, take, edit and publish photos and occasionally shop online. It’s the most frequently used computer in my house. Ten years ago, today’s mobile technology was unthinkable to the everyday consumer like me – maybe even to those working in the mobile and tech industries, who presumably had more insight as to long-term strategies and trends.

But in about 10 years’ time, my trusty Samsung Android smartphone will probably be tucked away in another box and its lack of sophistication and functionality will be laughable. Already I’m looking at my Gen 3 iPad and thinking that it’s too big, heavy and clumsy and I’d quite like to upgrade it to an iPad Mini.

My Kindle and iPod have been sitting on a shelf gathering dust
since apps became available on my tablet and smaA black and white photo of a first generation Kindlertphone, rendering separate devices unnecessary and I’m sure it won’t be long before my smartphone is out of support, or becomes unstable and I’m forced to upgrade.

Device innovation appears to have the momentum of a freight train; constantly evolving and developing products that meet needs that society didn’t know it had. One thing is for sure; the dusty tombs of my technology graveyard will continue to grow.

 

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