Life before mobile phones seems like a long time ago now.  My kids will never know of a life before mobile phones.  They will never even know of a time before smart phones. 

I got my first mobile phone when I was 18 and off to University.  Three Years later with my first pay check I got my hands on the Nokia 6410.  The must have phone.  Mainly so you could play worms on it. 

A few years later I thought I was the height of sophistication when I had a clam shell phone.  It was so tiny no one could ever hear what you were saying because when you held it to your ear it was no where near your mouth! 


life before mobile phones


They will never have the same conversations with me as I did with my Mum;

“Please can I phone Charlotte?”

“But you only just saw each other!”

“But it’s really important”

“Wait until 6 O’Clock.”

Six was the illusive time when phone calls switched to off peak rate so talk was cheaper!  


My kids will never know sitting down and chatting for an hour because the phone has a cord and you can’t move!  They will never be able to call their crush and hang up in a terrified / nervous fit of giggles as that person answers the phone.  There was no caller ID when I was a teenager!

Caller ID can save mishaps like the following conversation I once had…


“Hi Claire”

“Hi Aunty Yvonne”

“How are you? all ready for your camping trip?”

“Yes.  Just about to start loading the car.”

“Ok, have a great time.  Can I speak to Katherine”


“Yes, Katherine, Is she not there?”

“Errrr there’s nobody here called Katherine.”


“I think you may have the wrong number”

“Oh! Ummm ok.  Bye”



They will never know of a time when celebrities were virtually unreachable. (They were also real celebrities but that’s a whole other blog post!)  You couldn’t tweet them or follow them on instagram.  Your source of all celebrity knowledge came from Smash Hits and Going Live.  You couldn’t just send an email to Going Live and have Phillip Schofield read out your question.  You had to call in.  Calling involved hours every Saturday morning, dialling the number just to get the engaged tone.  I know because I did it.  My claim to fame is that I once spoke to Phillip Schofield.  He thought my name was Sarah.  But I got the competition question right and my Mum cheered like a loon in the background.  I won a Going Live mug.  It was melamine.

I also once spoke to Brad Pitt on the phone at work.  Well it wasn’t THE Brad Pitt.  But at the time I had a picture of Brad Pitt on my desk at work.  One of my colleagues genuinely believed it was a photograph of my husband.  I wrote a note that said “I’m talking to Brad Pitt” and threw it at my colleague across the desk.  It was the most unprofessional conversation ever as I got a fit of the giggles starring at my picture of Brad Pitt and talking to someone called Brad Pitt.  Poor guy. 



My kids will never know anything but screening calls.  When I was a kid you never knew who was calling so you just answered.  It was always a surprise!  My kids will never know how long it takes to dial a number on a phone with an actual dial.  Especially a phone number that had lots of nine’s in it.  Can you imagine trying to call the emergency services!

life before mobile phones


My kids will never know how annoying it is when you are talking to your best friend about the guy you really fancy and you hear the ‘click’ which means that your annoying little brother has picked up the phone downstairs and is now listening in on your conversation.

What about the sheer agony of waiting in by the phone because that boy said he would call you.  Or the organisation skills required to arrange meeting a group of friends.  No single group message function, just a ton of phonecalls!  And what about all those phone numbers of your best friends that you knew off by heart.  A forgotten skill.  Nowadays I struggle to recall my own telephone number.

I grew up in a generation of prank calls because there was no caller ID or star 69 to trace the call.  I used the Yellow Pages.  Thank God I don’t have to store that now!  I desperately wanted the hamburger phone from the diner in Home and Away, as much as I desperately wanted a phone in my bedroom.

life before mobile phones

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Before mobile phones, I made reverse charge calls in phone boxes to my parents when I needed them to come pick me up.  I still remember the advert and the song.  0800 R-E-V-E-R-S-E.  Before reverse charging I carried a pre-charged phone card to use in the phone boxes in an emergency.

My best friend used the phone in her Mum’s bedroom to call the boy I fancied to find out if he liked me, whilst I sat next to her pretending I wasn’t there.  I called that boy myself a few days later and all the time the phone was ringing hoped it would be him and not his parents that answered.  That boy did in fact like me.  Quite a lot it turns out, as he is now my husband.

It’s amazing how much one little invention has changes life as we know if.  Life before mobile phones was simpler and more complicated all at the same time!



I can’t help but think my kids are missing out on some life experiences.  I also know I am going to sound so ancient to them when I say “I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 18 and you couldn’t take pictures with it.”

Tell me your phone stories…


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life before mobile phones is something my children will not understand. Take a read of this trip down memory lane with the retro landline







Claire Kirby

11 Comments on Life Before Mobile Phones: I just called to say…

  1. Still jealous of the fact you spoke to the silver fox! I remember the “Wait until 6pm” days well. I wonder if teenagers still talk on the phone or is it all emojis? #FridayFrolics

  2. I was 29 before I had my first cell phone, before that it was ten years of beepers. My funniest phone story wasn’t funny to me at that time, I went to use the pay phone outside of McDonalds and quickly found that somebody had spread a ketchup packet all over the ear pierce. Bastard got me good #fridayfrolics

  3. Oh the nostalgia is too much! My Dad works for BT and as a result I had a BT charge card (may or may not have been used to call all my mates in magaluf from a phone box after too many archers and lemonades). I also had a really cool phone in my bedroom with its OWN phone number – incoming calls only lol. It was see through and flashed like the bat phone. My parents put it in as they were so sick of me and my BFF chatting for hours on the phone, after of course, spending the whole day together (and walking home together ha ha!).
    You are so right, these are the best memories and it’s kinda sad to think of them in the past.
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

  4. Oh my word!! This brought back a lot of memories!! I also never had a mobile phone until I’d been at uni for a term and my parents got so worried that I was living with a load of drug dealers! I’d completely forgotten about how calls after 6pm were cheaper and I also remember that annoying click which made you realise that someone was on the other line. It just seems so far away now. To think that we had to wait until 6pm to call our friends rather than the instant connection we have now. BUT I have a fond nostalgia for those old phones which meant you had to sit still and wait for ages to dial the number. Without sounding old, it also meant you had to leave the house without your phone and take in some of the real world!! How we ever managed to meet our friends on a Friday night without a mobile, I’ll never know! Thanks for the memories! #CoolMumClub x

  5. Oh my I LOVE this! Me too!!!
    I didn’t have a phone until I had a job – think I was 21. I remember using the house phone after 6 – every day. We had a bright red phone – I saw one on eBay recently for about £400! Really enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

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