When did you first get a cell phone?

I was reading the “Things that date movies” thread and wondering about this. I graduated from college in 1999 and it was still relatively rare in my circle of friends for someone to have a cell phone at that time. I got my first one in 2004 after a traffic breakdown where nobody stopped to help me for almost half an hour (in busy traffic) because I think everyone assumed I probably had a cell phone. These days it’s weird to find out that someone doesn’t have one. So I’m just generally wondering where the shift was.

I’m breaking the poll options into 3-year groupings just to make it less unwieldy. (More wieldy?) For purposes of the poll, just mark when you got your first cell phone, even if you don’t have one now, or there was a gap in ownership or whatever.

I got one in 1996 when I moved about an hour away from where I worked and was paranoid about all the driving with a toddler in the car. I rarely used it; it was $19.95 a month, plus .25 a minute. My bill was usually $30 for a few very short calls a month. I got out of my 2-year contract about six months early and did without a cell phone a few years.

I didn’t permanently get a cell phone until September 2001. It started seeming really necessary about that time to always be able to be in touch with people. I kept the plan I got that day until I got an iPhone last summer.

I got mine in 2008, but only because someone insisted on it. I use it maybe 3 times a year.

I signed up for Verizon’s prepaid service back in 2002. It works great, but I don’t use it all that much. I think I have almost $600 in credit.

  1. One of the good ol’ original flip phones.

I think service was like 15-20 bucks a month plus .15 to .30 a minute and roaming charges (oh those roaming charges).

Turned it on when I needed to make a call. Battery life wasn’t good enough to just leave it on. I was 26 y/o when I got it. I’d say less than 5% of the people around me had a cell phone. Comcast was the provider.


I got mine in 1999 when I was 18 and moved 4-5 hours away from my parents.

First cell phone - 1997.
First blackberry - 2002.
First combo blackberry/cellphone - 2004.

I had one, but got rid of it after the contract ran out back in 1993.
I was living in LA and bought one as a gift for my parents in Arizona.
It arrived, but then found out that because I bought it in California, I had to use it in California! (Odd regulations back then.) Thus, I now owned a cell phone and then had to go through Arizona to buy another one for my parents.

Back then, service was pricey, connection was iffy and it was not a great experience so I canceled it.

It was about 2000 when I bought my next cell phone and have had one ever since.

I checked: 05-07.

I was in high school and got my first phone that might be termed “mine”. Prior to that I would borrow one belonging to one of the parents if I was going to be out and might need to call them.

2003/2004. I remember because I was a freshman in high school.

I worked for BestBuy in the 90s and remember selling a crapload of them in 94’ when your choices were basically Motorola Bag Phone, Motorola Brick Phone, Motorola Flip Phone. The bag and the brick were free with a contract and the flip was $30. I think it was something like $30/month for 30 minutes and 25 cents/minute past that.
I didn’t get a phone till 99’. my first phone.

  1. I took over my mom’s old crappy analog phone. Barely used it.

  2. Briefly had a pre paid phone. It got way too expensive.

Late 2001. Finally bought a regular phone with a contract. The free long distance made the monthly payment far less that paying long distance charges on the land line. I went cell phone only from 2002-2004. I’ve got a landline now, but it is only used by my partner to make conference calls from his work at home.

I got one my senior year of high school, 2001-2002. I’m not sure which year it was, but I chose 2001 for the poll.

First phone 1992
Current cell number - 1993. Holy cow.

When the price for the cheapest Radio Shack car phone was reduced to $1500 plus installation and antenna, I sprang for it (ca. 1987?). Turned out to be very handy in L.A. – I could order a pizza on the way home from work and pick it up 10 minutes later.

There was a handset mounted near the gearshift and a double-brick-sized box in the trunk.

Once it rang when my girlfriend was in the car, but I was in a store. She didn’t pick it up because “I didn’t know how to answer it.”

Years later I donated the entire gear to a local minister when I got a half-brick sized hand unit with a standby time of about 6 hours. That one I used until ca. 2007, when analog phones stopped working and I had to upgrade.

Had one of the old “Bag Phones” back in the latter 80s.
Next model was an upgrade to one installed into my van (elevated platform between the front seats) early 90s

I got one March 4th of this year, birthday present. My wife finally said “you ARE going to have a cell phone” I use the home phone about once a week so I think the cell phone will get old and dusty in the car. lol

  1. I got one of those bag phones too. All I needed it for was emergencies, so it was sufficient.

I did the Trac phone thing back in 2000-ish. It was in the middle of the marriage falling apart and we need someway to communicate with each other. Actually, in retrospect, she didn’t really need it whatsoever, but I did, to my detriment … but I digress.

I finally went for the contract thing 4 years ago … and in fact, I’m now eligible for an upgrade, so there you go.

Fall of 1998.
My dad got a car phone many many years early an loved it. To this day he still talks about his old carphone. Some time around, I’d guess, 1994ish, he graduated to a business plan with Verizon. I think at the time between employees and family he had about 9 phones.
As I went into my second year of college, one of the employees quit and I got her phone. It was one of the Nokia Candy Bar phones. Many years and many phones later, I still have the same number.