A day in a family’s life

The First Cell Phone and Why I Could Have Used it in 1978

But they weren’t purse-sized yet…

Patricia Timmermans
3 min readJul 14, 2022


The Present

When my son and his wife brought a non-alcoholic sparkling wine to have with dinner, I was suspicious. Then they announced that they were expecting a baby, and I was more excited than when I found out I was expecting my son!

picture of champagne bottle and fireworks
Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Back to 1978

I already knew I was pregnant. I didn’t need my doctor to explain why I couldn’t hold food down, or why I’d missed a period. All I really needed was the confirmation.

My then-husband, however, was oblivious since I’d been keeping it quiet. I don’t know why we were all about surprises then more than now, but I really did look forward to telling him.

But get this, my appointment was done, and it was confirmed that I was six weeks pregnant. Now I got to call with the news, so my next stop would be the payphone in the lobby.

As I walked through the waiting room leaving my doctor’s office, I heard the receptionist at the desk congratulating my husband on expecting a baby.

I thought, ‘What the …?!’

He had called the doctor’s office to see if I was ready to be picked up, (no cell phones 44 years ago) and the receptionist was telling him my news!

I couldn’t believe it. This was our first baby, it was a one-time-only piece of news.

I asked her why, and she said she thought he already knew… What?! How could he have possibly known, I thought?

“How could he possibly know?” I said. There were no cell phones yet, or at least they weren’t purse-sized.

A sideline bit of info about cellphones: When I wrote that last sentence I asked myself, ‘when DID the first cellphone appear?’

Here’s what I found¹: While cellular phones were in development during 1968–1983, the first ever cellular phone call was made in 1973 on a prototype of the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, which became commercially available in 1984 at a retail price of $3,995 US.

It was heavy, it looked like a brick and had decent-sized buttons, I was half…



Patricia Timmermans

My guide dog and I visit schools to raise awareness for sight loss; the kids’ questions make great stories! Plus, I love books and writing book reviews. 🇨🇦