Cell phones have come a long way….

There is no denying it now, phones are everywhere. It's almost amazing that it is as old as it is. The first car phone a Motorola appeared in the 1940s but took so much battery power it did not catch on until the 1980s. Since then the cell phone is everywhere. It is now believed that 50% of the world has a cell phone. Finland being the country with the most cell phones per capita. It's not a coincidence that one of the biggest cell phone manufacturers Nokia is based there.

The cell phone itself has come a long long way. No longer are they just phones. Perhaps the biggest change came about in 1997. That year Philippe Kahn was a young entrepreneur with a fledgling company called Starfish. He had just been out of a company he help found Borland software nd was looking for new direction. He also had something else, a pregnant wife Sonia Lee. The 18 hour labor was not easy. Midway through she decided that she had had enough of the Lamaze techniques her husband was trying to get her to use. She told her husband to shut up and leave her alone. And that is what Philippe did. He sat down but needed something to do. He was too excited. Like any perspective parent he had his cell phone and his camera with him and thought about how to combine the 2. He had time for some trips to Radio Shack and some fiddling and pretty soon the cell phone camera was born. And Philippe’s daughter was the first person profiled with a camera phone! He then approached Motorola with his new idea but sadly they passed in what has to be one of the biggest regrets of the company’s history. It's interesting to point out though that Motorola did buy his company Starfish. So he took his product to Japan and a whole industry was born.

And what an industry it has become. Think of how many big events in the world are captured on cell phone cameras. This summer in Burma as the government silenced it pro democracy critics by cutting off the internet, TV and radio the world got a first hand view of the brave monks walking the streets of Burma thanks to a cell phone camera.

Where would the career of Michael Richards’ of Seinfeld be now if a cell phone camera had not captured his racist remarks and put them on YouTube? Prince Harry will always be haunted by the cell phone picture of him in a Nazi costume one Halloween. Even the final demise of Saddam Hussein was captured on cell phone camera for the world to see. There was a case in New York where a man on a subway decided to flash fellow passengers. Imagine his horror when the next day he appeared in all his glory on the front page of the New York post thanks to a cell phone camera. No doubt mom was pleased.

Think of the past and the days of JFK how would his presidency been different if he was caught on cell phone camera going into Marylyn Monroe’s hotel room? Would we see him differently today?

George Orwell’s book 1984 scared us all with the thought of Big Brother government watching our every move. Nobody thought it would be the person beside you with a cell phone camera that would be the bigger risk. I miss the days when the most advanced phone we had was Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone, at least you knew then who had what. As Maxwell Smart himself would say “would you believe?”