When did cellphones become ubiquitous?

Did teenagers have cellphones 12 years ago? I’m reading an ebook with a flashback, and in the flashback there is a teen with a cellphone…which he uses to save the day, sort of. The book is a contemporary, published this year, so that would make the flashback set in the mid 90s. I think I got my first cellphone in 1998 or maybe 1997, but I was out of college by then. Would the average teenager (sophomore in high school according to the plot) have had one in 1995 or 1996?  It seemed odd to me, but now I’m wondering if I’m just superimposing my experience over the characters.

Also, The Biochemist reported back:  she wore her ferrous wheel tee to work — among chemists and biochemists and other scientists — and people didn’t get it. [Illustration of homophone ferrous/ferris, heh.  Well, not really homophones since the second vowel is different, but almost.]  Then she went to happy hour with more chemists and biochemists, and still people didn’t get it.  Apparently my dorkdom goes beyond all previously known bounds, since I’m an extremely-non-science-type-person who got the play on words and was tickled by it. 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “When did cellphones become ubiquitous?

  1. Same here: got my first cell phone in ’97, and I seem to recall that back then, people bought them to use in emergencies. IIRC, there weren’t even “family talk” plans back then (in the Stone Ages, heh).

    • Exactly! I got mine because I was living out in BFE and driving alone on back roads and at night — it seemed like a good idea in case I needed to call AAA. Bet that phone would seem huge, clunky and not very functional in comparison to today’s cellphone.

      • I got mine about the same time (it was a little one, not the huge clunky ones — I think those were more early-90s) because I’d begun living alone. I don’t think I knew any teenagers with cell phones then (and I was just a few years out of high school, with my sister still in school.)
        Maybe if it was a really affluent family, I’d believe it more easily. Or if the teenager was in some crazy place a lot where his family thought he needed the phone.

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