It’s funny how much our world changes day to day, and the longer we live, the more data we have to refer back to. It is hard not to fall into the category of people who will start using the phrase “Remember when…?” I guess it is the natural evolution of things. Sort of like, when being 40 seemed ancient, until I was 40 myself.

I was reminded of this when I was watching a popular early nineties film. My “wow” moment came from the use of telephone communication, in two forms: The “collect” call and the limited “locator” technology that was once relied heavily upon.

Not only were phones clunky, attached to walls, or huge as the early “cordless” models were. The way we used “telephone” communication was different. When I observed the star of this movie trying to call someone without money, from a “pay phone” I was reminded that when we needed to call someone and we were broke, or had no change, we would (sometimes detrimentally) rely on the generosity of the person we were calling, to “accept the charges.”

The operator would call the intended party and say “Hello, I have a Lisa McFarland on the line with a collect call, will you accept the charges?” If the charges WERE accepted, you knew the person really wanted to talk with you since there were so many of them. By contrast, I suspect the technology is rarely used in this form any more, but more drastically, many homes do not even have land lines anymore, making it impossible to ever receive a collect call.

The second thing I marveled at as I watched this older movie was the function of the “caller locator” or “GPS tracker” technology which was (at least in the movies) mostly employed by crime authorities such as the police and FBI. Once the agent had a suspect on a the phone, they would do everything in their power to extend the time, so that their big machines could track and locate the origin of the caller.

”We need more time!” The other team members always seemed to say, while making extreme physical gestures to communicate the importance of the extending the call. As if the suspect had no idea what the “goal” was.

The evolution of these technologies is mind blowing. The transition from having to talk while attached to a wall, by a cord, to taking pictures with our phones, has me wondering what is next!

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