Whatever Happened to the Pay Phone?

When I was a child, I remember on every street corner, gas station, mall, motel, hotel, building, office, store, there were pay phone booths everywhere. You just couldn’t get away from them. People would insert coins and make a call. There was more privacy in those booths when you talked with someone and no one could hear what you were saying. Now, everywhere you go, you can hear peoples’ conversations wherever they are. I see people talking on their phones while driving, in restaurants, at the checkout line, and the list goes on.

In the late 1890s, a man by the name of William Grey invented the pay phone. By 1902, there were 81,000 new phone booths in the United States and that number kept growing every year to over 200 million by early 2000. Many companies who owned these pay phones kept raising their prices to catch up with inflation. However, when wireless devices started to become more and more popular, pay phones started to lose more and more revenue every year.

Public phones before the 1990s were the only way to connect to others until the wireless phone came out. By the mid-1990s cell phones started to become popular and pay phones were eventually fading away. Now the number of pay phones is less than 500,000 and dwindling every year. Some people are being affected by this trend because they don’t have a phone or wireless device that they can call someone.

These low-income residents either can’t afford a cell phone or phone service so they depend on public phones, which are now becoming a thing of the past. This can be very frustrating to them. I do agree that mobile phones are more convenient than other phones because you can take them everywhere. However, with low-income residents, it’s not convenient at all, but rather frustrating because it’s their only way of communication.

Now, more than ever before, cell phones are becoming easier for our lives because we carry them around like a computer, we pay bills, carry our insurance cards on our phones, we keep our contacts on our wireless devices so we don’t have to keep dialing the same number over again. The more additions we have on our wireless devices, the more popular they become.

Eventually, the pay phone will no longer be necessary to our lives as we move faster into the future. We will have wireless devices that will be able to secure our homes and cars when we are not around. Also, we won’t have to travel to attend meetings; instead we will be able to connect through our cell phones. Every day there are more and more inventions that will make our lives easier as we move in to the age of technology.

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