Anyone who thinks cell phones are as new as reality TV shows underestimates the genius of our forebears. In 1912, German technicians invented the “Pocket Telephone,” a device meant to communicate primarily with police. An announcement from Berlin read, in part:
“In consequence of the enormous expansion of the German capital, there are many outlying districts which are rendered unsafe through insufficient policing, and the pocket telephone was readily adopted as a partial solution of this problem. The new system is greatly favored as an adjunct to the police system generally, however, for every policeman is provided with a pocket telephone and can communicate with headquarters or other city departments whenever he finds it necessary.”
The item was actually a microphone that the individual would attach to a “contact device,” which would then connect with authorities. Of course, the user didn’t have the cherished privacy of a telephone booth. But, the technology was advanced enough to pick up even soft tones. The entire thing was about three-quarters of an inch thick and weighed approximately 7 ounces.
As creative and forward-thinking as they were, though, I don’t think the phone’s inventors could have foreseen texting and picture-taking phones. That took a real leap of perverted thinking.