REAL BRICK: Tradies like Peter Louttit happily abandoned “the bag” and its younger brother “the brick”, for sleek phones that can email site plans.Australia’s first mobile phone call was made 30 years ago this month, on a phone resembling a piece of furniture.
At $5000 in 1981, it also gouged a lounge-sized hole in its owner’s wallet.
Telecom’s original 14kg beast could barely be called mobile and was mostly the province of roaming tradies.
Broulee’s Peter Louttit did not come across one until 10 years later, in the early ‘90s, but even then “it was a fairly large piece of equipment, the size of an average lady’s handbag”.
Accepting that handbags vary, the builder subsequently settled on an industry-appropriate sizing: “It was about the size of a third of a beer box”.
Mr Louttit said it was purchased by the building firm he worked for and “was very expensive”.
He dubbed it “the bag” and used it when travelling to remote sites as a construction manager.
“It had a shoulder strap, an external aerial and the handpiece was attached with a curly cord,” Mr Louttit said.
“You dialled into the phone, which had its own very large batteries, the size almost of a small motorcycle battery.“
He said “the bag” itself “probably should have had wheels”.
“I am not sure it should have been a mobile phone, but that was the way it was marketed.”
Mr Louttit said he was the only person he knew with “the bag” and copped “a bit of stick about it”.
“I did cop a bit of stick about it, but then people realised the capabilities that it had” … both technically and that “you could drop it on their foot and break all their bones”.
Mr Louttit soon graduated to a 27-storey Darling Harbour building site and eagerly abandoned “the bag” on the ground floor, swapping it “as soon as I possibly could” for its cooler bro, “the brick”.
These days, he’s got an iPhone and, initially sceptical, finds it “very handy”.
“I can email people, they can email me, I can have plans emailed to me onsite, I can enlarge those plans, I can answer them onsite, I can convert that and send other information to other sites,” he said.
He can record his own memos.
As for “the bag”, now a collectors’ item, he does not know its fate: “I suspect it is a great counterweight or paperweight somewhere.”
Telstra is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the mobile phone in Australia, where they now outnumber people.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.