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Anna’s Anachronisms: Alexander Graham Bell versus A Modern-Day Cellphone

The bell of the café door dinged loudly as I swung it open and stepped through its faded, brown threshold. Ignoring the chime again as the door swung shut, I scanned the wooden booths (of which there weren’t many) as I handed my coat to the man standing by the door with a gracious smile. I spotted Mr. Bell sitting quietly in the corner, drinking tea and reading the morning paper. I quickly weaved through the tables to cut across the floor and take my seat across from him, and he lowered his paper with a bright smile. “Ah, there you are, lass. I’d almost thought you’d forgotten.” “Sorry I was late, I had to wait for my phone to update.” “I’m sorry?” Graham sputtered over his tea. “Did you just say you were waiting on a phone to update? What on Earth do you mean?” “Oh, that’s what I’d asked you here for, actually. I have something to show you.” I giggled as I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, and placed it on the table in front of him, screen-up. “This is a cellphone.” “A ‘cellphone’?” Graham echoed incredulously, picking it up. However, when it buzzed and lit up in his hand, he yelped in shock and dropped it. “That’s not a phone.” “Yes, it is,” I insisted coyly. “This is what your invention will eventually become.” “Where’s the ringer? The dialer? The handset?” He mumbled as he grabbed the phone again and inspected it. “And why did it vibrate when I touched it? And why is it covered in glass?” “One thing at a time, Alexander,” I reached over and opened up the “Call” app’s menu, showing him the contacts list and the number board as I continued with a steadying pat on the arm. “All the normal components you built are on the inside. Well, except for the dialer. We’ve got keypads now.” His eyes widened with shock as I continued flicking through apps like the camera, and the calculator. “All this, on a phone? Well, where’s it’s cord?” “They’re cordless now, except when you need to charge the battery. But you only have to plug in a cellphone for a few hours before you’re able to use it all day.” I replied, showing him the charging port and pointing out the battery indicator in the top right of the screen. “And what of my phones, the ones mounted on the wall?” Alexander gestured towards a white phone we could see behind the service counter from our seat. “What became of them?” “Well, they’re still around… but usually, more businesses and hotels keep them then families. Some people still have landlines in their homes, but they’re becoming obsolete as cellphones move forward.” Quickly opening the “Messages” app, I tapped a random conversation and sent a quick text. “We can also send telegrams to each other using cellphones, but we call them “text messages” and they’re practically instantaneous.” “Fascinating!” Alexander chuffed, staring intensely at the screen as the reply bubble popped up in the bottom left corner. “Is that them sending a ‘text message’ back? You can see them writing?” “Well, I can’t see what they’re writing as they type,” I corrected. “But I can see an indicator to tell me they’re typing, and what time they’ve read my messages.” “Outstanding… I never believed my invention would be a predecessor to such intense, complex technology!” Alexander gasped. “Would you be able to get me a wee scone from the waitress while I fiddle with the cellphone some more?” “Of course, Graham.” I chuckled as I rose to my feet. “But you’re buying mine, too.”

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