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1990's and cell phones


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#1 xtymorgan

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 12:51 PM

In my novel, there are flashbacks to 1996 when my protag's father is arrested for being a serial killer.  I was eighteen in 1996.  I don't think I got my first cell phone until 1998 or even 1999/2000.  I know kids weren't carrying around cell phones at school like they do now.  I had a beeper my senior year, lol.  But my question is this...would police detectives likely have cell phones in 1996?


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#2 addie.cass

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 02:15 PM

http://www.hongkiat....-mobile-phones/

 

:)



#3 jr9701

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 08:52 PM

Everything back then was still radio, I highly doubt any police offers or detectives were issued mobile phones. Look at it like this; you can write in scenes of people using phone boothes like the good ol' days!!!!



#4 VonAngel

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 01:55 PM

My sister had a cell phone in 1995 (Alltel), so they existed. Whether detectives used them or not, I don't know. They probably still used beepers and returned calls using the phone at an establishment, in someone's house (if they were paged while interviewing, for instance), or like jr9701 said...the good ol' phone booth.


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#5 LucidDreamer

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 02:15 PM

I agree that pagers (beepers) were a big thing. Still a lot of pagers in use in the 1990s. 



#6 mwsinclair

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 03:40 PM

yeah, I'd agree on pagers in '96.



#7 Joshua Conley

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 07:42 PM

Though the police were most likely not issued cell phones in the mid 90s, it would not be inconceivable to have an investigator who took the initiative to purchase his own phone and pay for his own service. Maybe the PD was attempting to be forward thinking in issuing their senior investigators with phones. It could make for good plot device, the cell service could have been less than great and he could have dropped calls at important times.

 

I purchased my first cell phone in 1994 and it rarely got use. The cost was rediculous and I paid by the minute (I think 10 cents or so a minute). My service was marginal (living in Wyoming) and the data screen was of a quality similar to an original gameboy, usually only displaying the numbers I typed or the number of the inbound call.



#8 mwsinclair

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 02:46 PM

To Joshua Conley's point, if your detective did something like that (paid for his own service), it would be a character trait that is note worthy. It means he has a bit of spare cash, so he's either from money (and might have some parental issues, as working as a detective might be seen as a "menial" job to people with a lot of money, so perhaps your investigator is purposely trying to stick it to his mother or father or both), or he is a bit of techie and will willingly spend a lot on technology rather than other things (e.g., perhaps he doesn't have a significant other and that might be a bone of contention in other relationships). In other words, you could definitely do something with the idea of whether he has a cell phone in the mid-1990s or not. Or just give him a pager, like a bunch of his contemporaries would have.

 

One thought: perhaps you can Netflix a bunch of early episodes of Law and Order, which was definitely around in the mid-90s. See what they do.



#9 ccmaddix@gmail.com

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 11:32 AM

I graduated in 1994 in Chicago, I knew one kid who had a cell phone and he was really wealthy so they were not that common. My father ran a newspaper distributorship and only had a bag phone that had to be plugged into the car, it cost a god awful amount to use so was really restricted for emergency use only. Hope that helps.



#10 Pen

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:36 PM

I'd also think about what area the detective is located. Rural probably not. Urban (with money) I'd say yes if not plausible.
 

I mean they had car phones even way back when too (no joke). So I could cell phone. Also the protag would have to be a really big shot (I would think) due to cost of the cellphone's and what not.

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#11 llLeoll

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 10:06 PM

I know I got my first in '96 -- because I was driving to and from work and grad school on winter roads with a shady car. And I got hired by a Fortune 500 in late '97, and they issued us all phones so they could always contact the team. But I remember that inspiring awe in my siblings: "A cell phone -- and work's paying for it?
 
There were issues back then you should know about -- perhaps adding them to the story could add realism. 
  • Roaming charges were legion. I was living in Cleveland and Chicago -- two major metropolitan areas -- and had to be very careful on the outskirts of town. 
  • Phones were the size of a small brick. 
  • Battery life was pitiful.
  • #! I remember it being 20-minutes active use/ 3-hours on stand-by
  • #! Needed an ashtray chargerjust to keep the thing going, unlike today when you'll need it only if you forget to plug your phone in before you hit the hay

 

Downside, I was not a cop, so I have no idea if they were standard issue. I could see a tech-savvy detective having one though.

 

Hope this helps,

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#12 llLeoll

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 10:06 PM

Not sure why, but the site posted a duplicate response. 

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#13 ficoce

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 01:42 PM

In my novel, there are flashbacks to 1996 when my protag's father is arrested for being a serial killer.  I was eighteen in 1996.  I don't think I got my first cell phone until 1998 or even 1999/2000.  I know kids weren't carrying around cell phones at school like they do now.  I had a beeper my senior year, lol.  But my question is this...would police detectives likely have cell phones in 1996?

This post is pretty old, but I might have a little input as an ex-radio tech from the era...

 

In '96 brick phones had been out for about 5 years and saw little use. Minutes were expensive and most professionals might have used a pager and a cell. 1996 was close to the transition year between pagers and cell. The cops were differnt. The police might have had a personal cell at the time, but officially cops used the two way radio. A detective would have had a pager for sure, most likely a two way radio in his car, and if the deptment had a budget - he would have a radio phone. This would be either a bag phone looking thing with a phone handset or a two-way radio with keypad built into the mic. These were cheaper than cell phones at the time and worked through the same reapeater tower as the normal radio did. Nobody really liked them. The push to talk of the radio phone sounded really odd to someone on a standard multiplex phone, like talking to a kid on a cheap walkie talkie. You also had to learn a few second functions with the star and pound to actually make them work - terrible compared to what we have today. By '96 bag phones were not used except for a few diehards out there.

 

Yes, it's possible a detective might have used a cell in 1996 - but it would've not been smart by any definition.






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