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How Old Were You When You First Got a Cell Phone?

Displaying poll results.
12 or under
  788 votes / 2%
13 - 15
  3833 votes / 10%
16 - 18
  7963 votes / 21%
19 - 21
  7193 votes / 19%
22 or older
  16429 votes / 43%
I don't own one
  1535 votes / 4%
37741 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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How Old Were You When You First Got a Cell Phone?

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  • I'm old (Score:5, Informative)

    by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Monday January 07, 2013 @10:32AM (#42504437)
    cell phones weren't publicly available when I was 21
    • by alphatel (1450715) *
      The best you could do was a beeper back then.
      • Re:I'm old (Score:5, Funny)

        by bobdehnhardt (18286) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:24PM (#42505831)

        Back in 1992, I had an alphanumeric beeper that could receive 160-character text messages.

        160 characters. 1992.

        Come on, Twitter!

        • Re:I'm old (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:28PM (#42505893)

          Fun Fact: A tweet is actually 160 characters, but the first 20 are automatically reserved for an internally-used user ID.

          • by TWX (665546)
            I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter was created by someone that worked with TAP [wikipedia.org]. I always wondered if there was a connection, or if the idea for Twitter existed back from bi-directional paging.

            I too had an alphapager. I kind of miss it, from the reduced leash perspective compared to the modern cell phone. I'm stuck carrying two phones because work gives me a phone rather than subsidizing my own phone, and I could use their phone as mine but they want to charge way too much for the privilege, like $0.15
            • by cra (172225)

              That should also give you the privilege to switch it off and be out of reach when you're not at work/outside office hours. You could even leave it at your work site when you leave for the day. (If you do have a "site", that is; I don't know what kind of work you do. Since you have a work cell phone you may be in the field, I guess.)

              • by TWX (665546)
                I am in the field. I'm also paid hourly, and if I take work calls off-hours I get to adjust my timecard for it.

                What I've done with the work phone is had the phone guys set my desk phone to forward to my cell phone instead of to voicemail after four rings. I'd simply have that forward to my personal phone instead of the work phone if they'd give me the stipend, and I'd give out the work desk number exclusively. That would mean that at my desk I'd take the call on the desk phone, but when out and about
                • by geekoid (135745)

                  With the added bonus they can claim your phone anytime to check your records. well done.

            • by djl4570 (801529)
              Using technology adapted from the pagers of twenty years ago dodges specious patent claims of today.
          • That's not fun.

        • Originally one of the best ways to update your twitter status was via SMS. It was awesome back when data plans were for millionaires,

      • by reboot246 (623534)
        I was 21 in 1974. Even beepers weren't around.

        Yeah, I'm old.
      • by Xeno man (1614779)
        Funny, all this poll does is tell the average age of the Slashdot user base. A better question would be what year did you get your first cell phone.
    • by Dins (2538550)

      I'm with you. I'm 42. The first cell phone I used was when I was probably 24 and it was one of those huge old Motorola bricks. The first one I actually owned was probably 1999 or so (I was 29).

      Maybe a more relevant answer would be my son. We got him his first cell phone when he was ~12 and more or less just so we could coordinate rides to and from various events. He's a weird kid, though. He has to be the only teenager (he's almost 14 now) who pretty much NEVER uses his cell phone. He's very techno

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Well, it is possible, since cell phone networks were first set up in 1978, and my wife still has her (deceased) mom's 1979 cell phone - it requires a cigarette lighter plug (no battery) and is meant to be used in a car. The thing is enormous and heavy and I'm not sure why she keeps it other than sentimental value, as I'm sure it is useless now, but is kind of a cool conversation piece. That said, I was also in my late 20s before I got one, but my brother has had one since he was 20 (his college internship b

      • Carried around a Motorola brick ca 1994 when I was doing news radio. Fucker was heavy, too.

        Got my first modern mobile (a Samsung clamshell) in 2005. I was 40-something then. Ah, to be young again...

      • I'm 23, some/most my friends got their phones when they where 12-ish, and as far as I could tell they mainly used them to harass/bully each other and play pranks. When I got my phone (around 14 I think) I hardly used it either, and to this date it is still more of a communication device as opposed to a social device to me.

        What I am trying to say is that it hardly makes your son weird that he doesn't use his phone much, it probably mainly means that he isn't a bully himself, and if he is bullied, it's on fac

        • by Dins (2538550)

          Good point.

          I was thinking about it, and part of it may be that the way teenagers are communicating is evolving past phones and text messages. As I said he IS technologically literate so he would probably be on the cutting edge of any such trends, whether I realize it or not. I will say he Skypes a lot. Mainly with a couple friends he plays Minecraft with, but I looked over his friends list the other day in Skype and it's pretty big. He doesn't have a video camera for his computer (and thankfully hasn't

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hrm. Maybe a better question to ask is "In what year did you first get a cell phone?" I still remember my father's car phone, and his bag phone.

    • Re:I'm old (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZigiSamblak (745960) on Monday January 07, 2013 @11:28AM (#42505103)
      Same here, or at least they were huge and expensive 14 years ago.

      A more sensible question would be in what year you got your first mobile. Early 90s, late 90s, 2000-2003, 2003-2005, 2005-2007, 2007+ or something similar would make the poll actually useful, and I guess that goes against Slashdot rules.
    • Re:I'm old (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:15PM (#42505727) Homepage

      I didn't have a cell phone until I was in my 30s. It was a combination of them not being available when I was a kid, and not wanting to have one of the damn things. I hate talking on the phone (and a can-you-hear-me-now cell phone even more so), so I had Zero incentive to carry one around with me. The only reason I relented and bought one (a prepaid dumbphone) was because I was on unemployment, and needed a way to call in for my weekly check-in appointment without being stuck at home or finding a payphone. Of course today (I'm... no longer in my 30s) my phone and I are almost inseparable, but that's only because my phone is now a computer with my calendar, notes, mail, web access, etc. You could remove the Phone app from it, and I'd be just as happy with it. Probably more.

    • But most were pretty big, including the briefcase models. To get anywhere near a standard phone size cost a few thousand dollars. And they were all analog.

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Never saw a briefcase model, but I do remember the old DynaTACs that I think were about $4000 (probably 10k it today's dollars). My mom had the successor to that (miniTAC iirc), which was one of the first non-car cell phones I personally saw, but that was more like 1990.

        • by Quila (201335)

          My dad had one of the big briefcase models in the early 80s. He worked for the phone company as a field engineer, and had it in case of emergencies far out on remote sites. He had strict instructions never to use it because the calls were stupid-expensive even to the phone company.

    • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:43PM (#42506845)

      Phones were still Gordon Gecko-only bricks for the well-to-do while I was finishing high school. Maybe a better question would've been, "What would've been the right age for you to get a cellphone?"

      If /. really wanted to have some fun and expose us as old, they could ask some better geriatric-exposing tech questions like:

      • * What's the best tool to wind back up chewed-up cassette tapes?
      • * How long do you boil your hot dogs on the stove?
      • * How many stamps have you licked in one sitting?
      • * Which joystick was the best?
      • by rueger (210566) *
        - pencils
        - til they split
        - before we could afford a postage meter? Several hundred - with a sponge.
        - I think I bought an actual Commodore joystick for my C64......
    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      This is a dumb survey on /., maybe it should ask how old were you when cell phones became available in your area. The proposed survey would be more relevant on engadget or another site like that.
    • by Marillion (33728)
      I'm right there with you. As a dude born during the US Johnson administration, the phones just didn't exist for a long time and when the did arrive, they were very expensive. I got my first cell phone shortly after the birth of my first child. $35/mon for 30 min/mon.
    • by treeves (963993)

      You *are* old. Well, older than I am. ;-)
      I turned 21 in 1987, four years after the first commercially available cell phone.
      I didn't get one until after I was married in 1998, so older than 33.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_DynaTAC [wikipedia.org]

    • by Ozeroc (1146595)
      I avoided getting a cell till 2004 when I needed one for entering the job market after leaving the military. Now it sits my car, powered off, for emergency use only.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Same here! My first boss was an early adopter, though! He loved to walk into the bathroom and take a leak while talking on the phone. And for some reason the wireless landline sets that had become common just before cellphones really took off wouldn't cut it.
  • Semantics? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @10:32AM (#42504441)

    Are we talking about when we first legally obtained a cellphone?

  • The 1990s (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Monday January 07, 2013 @10:55AM (#42504703) Homepage

    I was 22 in 1992. You had the Nokia 1011 [grignani.org] then. Far too expensive for a mere student. I got my first mobile in 1998; an Alcatel that could run on three normal batteries. [blogspot.com]

  • Mid 90's so between 35 and 40.

    [John]

  • by issicus (2031176) on Monday January 07, 2013 @11:12AM (#42504891)
    I'm 25.
  • by RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) on Monday January 07, 2013 @11:29AM (#42505131)

    I held out until 35, when my wife was pregnant with our first child.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @11:30AM (#42505157)

    This poll is more useless than most because cell phones haven't been available to the public long enough. In order to make any sense out of the results of this poll, age data would need to be provided in order to categorize responses based on technological practicality. All the results for this poll tell me is what I already knew: the majority of people on this site are older than the internet.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      "the majority of people on this site are older than the internet."

      Um... no. I'm older than the internet, but that's only because I was born in the 1960s.

    • by Haoie (1277294)

      Better to have a "what year did you first own a cellphone"?

  • To be fair, I worked at a car stereo store that installed cellphones (and this was in the AMPS days when handhelds were the size of a brick and bag-phones were the norm for folks that needed better range) .. I also had the very first sprint "brick" when those launched (only one phone, only one plan) which was when I was in college in the 90s.
  • was working as a cab driver at the time. It was the kind with the main body of the phone in a bag, and an antenna your ran from the bag out the window to the roof...

  • by anyaristow (1448609) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:01PM (#42507091)

    I was watching the 1976 movie Car Wash not too long ago and it wasn't until after the scene where the woman was talking on a car phone that it dawned on my what I'd seen. So I looked it up and found [checking again] the first handheld cell phone was demonstrated in 1973 and first commercially available in 1983. The first mobile calls from cars were made in 1946, and the networks they built in the following years were in use into the 80's.

    • by Blimbo (528076)

      Banacek had one in his car, which always seemed uber cool and apropos for that suave dude.. In any case that show ran '72-'74.
      It was when the phones were not tethered to a vehicle battery and large antenna that sealed the mobile deal. Still i was about 32 (1990) when i got my first cell phone and only becasue i moved form a small town to a large metropolis and you pretty much had to have one there.

    • by k6mfw (1182893) on Monday January 07, 2013 @08:29PM (#42512647)

      Although cellphones were available in 1980s, they were big and expensive but much easier to get than a IMTS (take a look at http://www.wb6nvh.com/Carphone.htm [wb6nvh.com]). Pre cellular car phones used dedicated frequencies (meaning very few subscribers) and only the top stinking rich can get these. But then if you had a cellphone in 1980s (or early 1990s) you were The Man.

      I have a 1970s IMTS control head I got at a flea market 10 years ago (Bell System Property, Not For Sale), it's big and scary (god only knows what the trunk unit was like), it has a Model 500 handset, rotary dial, and a real bell (ding, ding, ding). I don't know when or ever I will have time to make it operational with a cellphone module interfaced with a pulse counter and other circuitry to interface and use it like a carphone. However, no room to put it in today's cars that have big divider down the center. But it would be uber cool just like Banacek and Cannon.

  • I got my first cellphone when I was a somewhat less old geezer of 42. I don't think they even HAD cellphones when I was 22.

  • Modded to handle 5 ESN/MIN pairs from the keypad without needing the CTEK dongle.

    I also had a whole slew of Motorola G1-G3 brick and flip phones at that point, but the Oki was the prized possession by far.

  • Due to the variety of ages on Slashdot, of course 22+ is going to be the primary answer. If they asked "in what year did you first get a cell phone?" that would be a more interesting result set. For me it was late 2004, junior year in college. Not quite the last of all my friends to get one, but just almost. The only other guy who didn't still lived at home, so... yeah.
  • How old was your child when they got their first cell phone?
  • my mother insisted I carry a pay-go phone in case of emergencies, because I had a ratty old car and commuted daily.

    After a couple years of this, my then-fiancee added me to her cell plan (over my initial protests) and I've had one since.

  • Well, in the mid-90s ... I used to run the infrastructure group for a multinational in London - about three of us, picking up gadgets for the staff that went over to Europe. I remember the cellphone batteries (normal) used to be quite chunky. Then someone discovered a long-lasting battery that was good for lord-knows how many hours. And it was about as wide as it was long. Put that in your jacket pocket and your threads would start fraying immediately.

    Battery technology has advanced really fast - an
  • ... But I do borrow one. I rarely use the phone due to my disabilities and rarely go outside. :( I prefer the Internet even if it is a slow dial-up on copper landlines!

  • So I scan the poll for my answer and find it in the bucket that starts at 22, which is nowhere near my real age. 22 considered old???

    I must be pretty old. Hell, I was a good bit older than 22 when /. started....

  • That's more interesting to me. I got my first cell in '99 iirc. It was a digital only Nokia (Nokia 5190 [wikipedia.org]) that you could get an ugly thick back for to do analog as well. Fido network (out of Vancouver). It was only good in major city centers due to the lack of proliferation of digital at the time. That was back before everyone started levying "network access fees".

    I kind of miss that phone. Simple. Dead reliable. Extremely good battery life (I charged it on Sundays).

    My second favorite phone was my Motor
  • I got one of those great Bag Phones, the things which could talk to a cell tower a couple counties away. I relized right away I could not drive and dial at the same time, so gave that up in the first days I had it. It was a hoot being on a ramp off the highway, making restaurant reservations for Pizzapapalis Taverna in Greektown, Detroit. "Where are you calling from?" "Off ramp along I-75 near Birch Run." "Wow! You've got one of those new car phones?!?" Yeah, it was a trip. Now everyone has one. Even

  • At what age you do you let your kids have or give your kids a cell phone?

    For me, it was last year at age 12 or 13 (can't remember if before or after his birthday).
    He almost never uses it as a phone though.
    He does text occasionally.

  • Now you've got me thinking.

    I date back to pagers, back when cel phones were crazy rich guy stuff.... then...
    • Rented a bag phone -the old shoebox sized ones - for a road trip working in the US.
    • Rented a Gordon Gecko phone for another job - found out how long the battery lasted. Not long enough.
    • My first real phone was an Audiovox about half the size of a brick - seemed really small at the time.
    • Then something I've totally forgotten half the size of that.
    • Hmmm - one Motorola flip phone, one Sony/Ericsson that
  • My first phone was the Nokia 7110 [wikipedia.org]. Got it in 1999, so I would have been 16 or 17. I was a bit of a latecomer - most of my school friends had phones a year or two earlier. SMS was really starting to take off as the method of communication back then.

    I know the 7110 wasn't actually the exact model used in the Matrix (it was actually the similarly-designed 8110 which is a bit older), but it came out around the time the movie did so a lot of people thought it was 'the Matrix phone'...

    These days I'm on an iPhone

  • I know that I'm not an early adopter in the truest sense of the word, as they were technically around before I was born. However, I did have one before most average people. My buddy and I worked at Best Buy, so we got good deals on them. I had an Ericsson CH668 (or something close to that) on Omnipoint (before they became Voicestream and T-Mobile) in the late '90s.

    I started out with the cheap (I thought it was free, but maybe it was just really cheap) Mt. Dew numeric pager promo. My friends and I all go

  • ...23 or 24 I think. Got a Motorola SC3160 with Airtouch.

  • I was always an early tech adopter in the 90's, but the rise of the cellphone has given me pause. I understand the benefits of communication in emergency situations but have seen this excuse devolve quickly into cyberspace zombie behavior in public and then private situations. The TV was the first 'hypnotically' attractive communication device but the so called smartphone is orders of magnitude more addictive. Instantaneous access to your person by anyone at any time might not be the greatest of innovations

    • by Misagon (1135)

      Agreed. At first, I did not get one because of the risk of the radiation being dangerous to my health, but I am seeing what you are seeing and am getting even more convinced that I did the right thing.

      I have a simple cell phone, which I had got as a gift. I have it only for medical reasons, in case I need to get in touch with a doctor, or my doctor needs to get in touch with me, but most of the time, I keep it switched off. The hospital practically forced me to get one, and a relative had a spare.

  • Let's see. 22 or older and I've had a personal cell phone for at least 16 years and no land line for 14 years. Oh, and my first cell phone was the Sony CM-Z100 with service from GTE. They gave me a basketball for signing up. That phone was awesome. Everyone else was lugging around those big flip phones on belt holsters and I had this little thing smaller than a pack of smokes that slipped in a pocket. And it went 24 hours on a charge with the stock battery (which was LiPo if I remember right). Most p

  • I think this poll underestimates the average age of the Slashdot reader...
  • In 1997. I bought a used GSM phone, think it was an Alcatel HC 400, and a pre-paid SIM for it. It was OK but there were some issues with it, such as the battery not having a perfect fit so the phone would occasionally switch off when having it in the pocket. I fairly quickly went on to other phones.

    The most annoying phone I've had was a Philips Diga, circa 1998. There were many usability issues including that it was way too easy to accidentally call the emergency number.

    The phone longest in use I've had was

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

 



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