Communications Technology, 1980’s Style #socs

Back in the early ’80’s, my job required that I wear a pager, or, in common parlance, a beeper. It was pretty cool walking around with it on my belt, until the thing started going off at inopportune times, like lunch, when I was on the other side of the Loop, or when I was on the bus going home, because I couldn’t do anything until I was near a phone, plus I needed to carry a dollar’s worth of quarters everywhere because, while there were cellphones back then, they were huge and really expensive to own. If I was at home, of course, I could use my home phone, and there were times when I’d have to go back out and head back to the office.

When I moved to Atlanta, I was once again required to wear a pager. I was told by my boss at the time that, when the pager went off, I had to answer it as soon as I could. One day I had just left the office and it went off, so I had to go back to the office and find out what it was about. Turns out the "emergency number" was set up such that when somene left a message, it set off the pager. Someone had called the number and left a long and rambling message about how some sort of testing was going. Needless to say, she got an earful from me the next day.

The cellphone basically made the pager obsolete. I had a friend that worked for Bellsouth Mobility leasing pagers, and he ended up losing his job. That was life in the big city, I guess…

Linda runs Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Now a word from Motorola Pagers, for the messages you can’t afford to miss!

31 thoughts on “Communications Technology, 1980’s Style #socs

  1. I also had a beeper in the late nineties. It seemed to never fail that I would be on the interstate when it went off. I was working in IT and they were paying me hourly…I then told them…hey….something is wrong here. I’m on 24 hour notice…should I not be on salary? After I did that…they agreed and no more beeper…I was given a raise and put on a salary.


  2. Oh man…yes, I remember the pager and how some walked around attached to their belt. Thankfully, I never had a job where they needed me like this.


  3. I did not like having a pager when I was a Visiting Nurse. Like you say before cell phones we had to go find a landline. I would often call from the next patient’s house. It was good to get a cell phone because I could respond and also ask for directions or call the auto club if my car broke down.


  4. We rented a pager when I was expecting my oldest some 33 plus years ago. That way B knew it was time to skedaddle to the hospital. It was our only experience, the pager was returned once Pony was born.


  5. I carried a pager for year’s as did most ‘important’ IT people. 😁 One year we added a new number and found out later on it had been the number of a local drug dealer. The poor person who drew that number was getting paged constantly. It took a minute to figure out what was going on.


  6. I used to have one before I got my first BlackBerry. Also gave our daughter one when she was in high school. Rule: call us back within 5 minutes of being paged or you’ll be grounded.


    1. What if she was more than five minutes away from a phone? Ohhh, I see, the point was she should NEVER be more than five minutes from a phone… See, I never had any kids, much less girls. I’ve heard they can be a handful…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They probably use the pagers while they’re in the hospital, because I think the mobile phone signal can interfere with some of the equipment. The pagers don’t use the same frequencies as the phones do. My uncle, while he was doing his residency back in the early ’60’s, carried a beeper that he couldn’t fit in his pocket. It fit all right in the pocket of his lab coat, but that was all…


        1. We had one the size of a pen. Electronics are amazing: your cellphone has more computing power than the earliest mainframes that took an entire room to contain and a constant flow of cold water to cool…


  7. John, thanks for reminding us about needing quarters to make a call (do you recall the dime calls before the quarter change)
    and also how they became obsolete –
    the commercial looks like Motorola was making a super cool one in 1994 – I only recall the plain and black/grey ones – not the cool blue.


  8. The first I knew of pagers was when actors on TV used them. I couldn’t figure out why anyone other than executives or doctors would need to be in constant contact. When cell phones came out, I was late to the game for the same reason. LOL


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