Skip to main content

Adapting to mobile phones

Younger mobile owners

It's to good talk

In only 50 years the need to be in contact whilst mobile has gone from the preserve of the wealthy and a business tool to being a necessity, with the anxiety of not having a mobile phone to hand even getting the name nomophobia.

There are around 80 million mobile phones in the UK today (2012) twice as many as there were in 2005. A far cry from 1982 when there were only 10,000 mobiles connected to the pre-cellular network.

The reason why we need to feel in touch may well be a basic human instinct but for whatever reason it led to a revolution like no other. It would be hard to argue that the technologies of mobile communications hadn't dramatically changed the way people live. It goes far beyond the ability to talk to each other over distances, now people can carry on text conversations with friends instantly and even more powerfully, through social media, can comment, often including pictures and video, on anything to a worldwide audience, which used only to be the preserve of the press, radio and television.

Collection of mobiles

What next?

Since the introduction if the 3G network, offering reasonable data speeds, mobiles are now commonly used to; play music; take videos; surf the internet and give access to email. The ability to customise high-end smartphones with downloadable apps (applets) to suit all manner of needs from simple games to satellite navigation has rapidly made them the must have gadget and part of a person's life style.

The next generation network, 4G, is expected to roll out in the UK by the end of 2012. And promises data speeds approaching those of home broadband. How this will change our lives is anybody's guess but it will likely mean that data hungry applications like mobile TV and video streaming will offer a wide choice of entertainment on the move.

Mobile phone user : Katherine Pell

Katherine Pell is a 30-year-old Museum assistant from Bournemouth and like most people of her age grew up with the phone as being an everyday part of life.

The advance of the mobile phone was a development that she grew up with, although she hasn't been tempted to into buying one for herself.

However, much to her surprise her mother has taken a plunge into the mobile world.

audio clip


I am absolutely amazed that my mother, who is completely un-technologically minded, and who shies away from the phone and always prefers to write letters in order to communicate with people, has actually just bought herself a mobile phone. I do understand the advantages of having a mobile phone in certain circumstances, such as my mothers, when she's driving on her own.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...