Connected 7x24 as a Family for 45+ Years …
We’ve always been always on . . .
My family & I have been connected 7x24 since 1974. More on how & why in a moment, but you can imagine I have a sense of what today’s modern kids and adults feel as they grow up always being able to reach everyone.
It has ever thus been so for me.
How were we well-connected nearly 50 years ago ? And why ?
We have a family construction company, and my dad discovered how being always connected was so much more efficient for everything we did in business. And made life a lot easier (as the world discovered decades later).
So in the early 1970s, he invested tens of thousands of dollars in radio equipment, the same as police and fire departments use. Later he’d build and run our own radio towers to provide communications for ourselves and others in our area (a lucrative business today).
This meant that our house, workshops, and every vehicle we owned each had a private radio system installed. And my dad carried a portable on him every waking hour of every day.
Thus our family, our employees, and our key vendors could communicate any time from any where — the system had a 50–100 mile range. Just like you can call everyone in your family today, we were doing it decades ago.
To connect even more about 1980, Dad upgraded & installing one of the first available long-range portable phones in his truck, right next to his radios. An ultra-modern duplex system (IMTS), it weighted 50 pounds, cost about $2500 plus $100+ per month to use.
Only two people could talk in the whole state at the same time due to frequently limitations — imagine that, a total capacity of two calls over thousands of square miles and a million people (and you could listen in to others calls; that was fun in itself, especially late at night).
But imagine calling your father or your team, in town or 50 miles away, by just dialing the phone — 35+ years ago. More importantly, by connecting to the PSTN (normal phone network), anyone could call him and he could call anyone —just like today’s cell phones.
So the idea of contacting dad to bring home a gallon of milk, which was novel even in the ’90s, was routine for us in the mid-‘70s. It made me feel very modern and helped me focus on efficiency, planning, and communications. It especially made real-time coordination a key skill, almost like military teams work in today’s battlefield, moving resources around, scheduling, etc.
Later, as a manufacturing engineer, I had pagers so teams could reach us 7x24 for emergencies, and just to find people on sprawling factory floors. I still feel naked without something clipped to my belt or if people can’t reach me.
Then in 1990, I bought my first cell phone; it weighted 10+ pounds and came in a big bag. It was still very cool, though quite expensive and sat in my car all the time, as it was too heavy to carry (I still had the pager).
Only in the last decade or two has the family company moved on to cellular phones, finally shutting down the expensive private radio system for good. But our spirit of connectedness lives on, and now everyone lives this way, all around the world. It’s amazing how far we’ve come, and yet not very far at all.
My family and I have been über-connected now for nearly 50 years, always being on and in touch, all the time, every time. Does that make us any different or did we learn any lessons ?
I’m not sure, but I can’t imagine living without it, then or now.
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