How cool was it that James Bond had a phone in his car back in the '60s? And that Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. When I was growing up, mobile phones were science fiction.
I won't tell you that I had to turn the crank and ask Mabel to connect me, but I will admit to having a "party line" -- a phone line shared by two or more homes. If the neighbors were on the line, you waited to use the phone -- or you could quietly lift the receiver and eavesdrop on their conversation.
So let me say that I'm amazed how far communications technology has come. I purchased an iPhone about six months ago and now wonder how I survived without it.
First, let me say that I wasn't always a fan of the pocket phone. There were times when I didn't want to be reached. Before the days of cellular service when one of the kids answered the home phone and called out, "Dad, it's for you," it generally wasn't good news. It meant the press was late, a news photo couldn't be found or the next day's lead story fell through. In any case, it generally meant a trip back to the office to straighten whatever out.
So, at times, it was nice to be out of touch. Today, the excuse that so-and-so can't be reached doesn't fly -- even if he's out of town or out of the country.
For better or for worse, I'm no longer untouchable. I've heard the term "CrackBerry" to refer to the addictiveness of BlackBerry smart phones. Now I'm part of that. I used to treasure my "unreachable" moments, and now I go nowhere without my phone.
It's not that I'm swept away with the latest technological wizardry. This stuff is practical and productive. To wit:
* I used to be able to go a whole weekend without checking e-mail. Now, I check the inbox every half hour all weekend long.
* I can take scads of photos and videos of the grandson and send them to appreciative friends and relatives all over the country at all hours of the day.
* I spend quality time with my son playing Scrabble. He's in his room and I'm in mine. The game allows us to "chat" with each other, which alleviates us from having to holler from room to room.
* My phone remembers where I parked my car and can lead me to it. I can't tell you how many cars I've lost this way in the past.
* My phone is my clock, calendar, calculator, camera and compass -- a Swiss Army knife of electronic devices. It serves as my address book and gives me weather info. It even tells me what's on TV. This stuff is really handy, although I never felt compelled to carry these things around with me before.
* I downloaded an app that turns my phone into a level. Just set your phone down on the table and it can tell you if the surface is even. That's critical information.
* I can play solitaire, Skee-Ball, Monopoly and Uno without leaving the john or bothering with other people.
My iPhone and I were heroes the other day when the family was in the car and we thought we knew where we were going until we got there and realized we were at the wrong house -- sorry to those folks for pounding on your door Sunday morning. No fear, though, I googled the name of the person we were looking for, got their address, plugged it into the navigation application and was given my choice of a street map, satellite view or turn-by-turn directions that took us to the right house.
The point is that technology is moving so quickly that the image of someone sitting at a desktop computer browsing the Internet is obsolete. Today's generation wants all its connectivity right in a pocket. I've seen it in my own family as the kids went from desktops to laptops to handhelds. Henceforth, mobility is the key.
Not even 007 -- that's the Sean Connery 007 -- could have imagined the technology virtually at our fingertips.
J.K. Murphy is the publisher of the Daily Post. E-mail him at email@example.com.