Thursday, 13 March 2014

'80s memories "Call Me" as cellphone milestone "Rocks (Me) Like a Hurricane" (or whatever)

I get a touch nostalgic looking back at the early '80s -- the music, the movies, the clothes, oh my god the clothes. It's easy to gloss over the crappy bits of the era, such as that I was a kid with no money of my own living under the repressive and poverty-stricken regime of checked out parents. Or that I was trapped like a bug in the amber that was and is the public school system where freaks, geeks and cliques ruled, clashed and crushed one another at random.

Still, that little warm hum of wistfulness sneaks in when I think back, casting a soft glow and long shadow. What wasn't to love (if you ignored any negatives, obviously)? We had Stripes, Caddyshack and Ghostbusters in theaters, all by 1984 (RIP Harold Ramis, you will always be awesome); Duran Duran, Journey and Blondie on the radio; and fingerless gloves, shoulder pads and Members Only jackets on many, many bodies (this kept us amused when we couldn't find an episode of Evening at the Improv for a chuckle).

But I can't muster up fondness for the one area where the '80s sucked worse than a middle-aged cover band dressed in spandex and still singing songs of teenage lust -- and that area, my friends, is technology. I wouldn't go back if I could, not without my tech. And my own apartment. The ability to drive, a car, and ready cash despite my tender age would also help sweeten the deal should I ever fall into some crazy hot-tub-time-machine scenario.

The best example of how the '80s (at least regarding tech) kind of blew is emphasized in today's anniversary -- it was 30 years ago today that someone purchased the first handheld cellphone.

This cellphone was a huge step forward, but it still highlights the level of crapitude of '80s tech. This glorious dinosaur cost $4,000, weighed nearly two pounds, and was nicknamed "The Brick." I couldn't afford a version of this new-fangled device (albeit a more "modern" one that somehow maintained the chunky, feature-free sexiness of the original) until around 2001.

Fast forward to today (well, last week, actually) and I just bought my husband a new cellphone that is actually a small computer, camera, alarm clock and more rolled into one, all for the badass sum of $60. For those who give a fig, I got him the Nokia Lumia 520 Windows phone (which is exactly what I already have and love) from Best Buy. I also used a $25 gift card I "bought" with Coke reward points (that's a whole bargain-hunting side of me that could fill its own blog), bringing the out-of-pocket price to $35. Typical operating cost: a $10 top-up every three months from H20 wireless.

Suck on that, 1984.

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