A library in your pocket: the evolution of the phone

On March 7,  1876 Alexander Graham Bell was granted patent number 174,465 for his “Telegraphy” design.  Three days later he successfully transmitted these famous words: “Mr Watson—Come here—I want to see you” to his assistant, Thomas Watson. The telephone has gone through many changes in the 137 years since the granting of the patent, and today it is a virtual library in your pocket.

In the beginning the telephone was a rather heavy piece of equipment that tethered callers closely to their telephone outlets and required human mediation to place a call.  As these posters show, the phone evolved from being simply a utilitarian piece of equipment that was only available in one color (black) and in one design, to being a available in a variety of styles, colors.  By the late 1940’s 50% of households had a telephone By the early 70’s, more than 90% of households had at least one telephone and many people were beginning to trade in their rotary dial phones for touchtone models. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the mid 80’s when a majority of households had push button phone.

Here Comes Wireless
In the 1990’s a new technology — wireless cellular– began to change the way America used their phones: cell phone subscriptions skyrocketed from 33.8 million in 1995 to over 321 million in 2010. Households everywhere are ditching landlines and relying exclusively on cell phones for their telephone service.

Ironically, the cell phone is increasingly being used for everything but telephone service. In September 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that smartphone ownership had outstripped regular (or “feature”) cell phones, with 45% of adults owning a smartphone, compared to only 34% with a feature phone. Smartphone users are surfing, texting, tweeting, facebooking, flipboarding, instagramming and more. In short, the idea of a a phone as a single use device is quickly becoming a quaint notion.

The Library in Your Pocket
In recognition of the rapid adoption of smartphone use, the Princeton Public Library has optimized a number of services for smartphone use. For instance, point your mobile browser to our new mobile website at http://m.princetonlibrary.org. The mobile site is a work in progress and we would love to hear your feedback.  (Note that our website will automatically detect if you are viewing it from a mobile device and serve up the mobile version accordingly, but there is always an option at the bottom of the page to return to the non-mobile version of the website.)

Check out a number of other services which provide e-content optimized for the mobile experience:

  • Read a digital Magazine through Zinio:Choose from over 70 magazines, with free subscriptions delivered right to your phone or tablet. (The phone experience is suprisingly wonderful!)
  • Read or listen to and ebooks or audiobooks through elibrarynj.com: ELibraryNJ offers a great collection of ebooks and audiobooks which is growing every day. You can read ebooks online –no downloads or special software is necessary– through the next generation “Overdrive Read” feature. Iphone users can still download the Overdrive Media Console App, for the full iphone experience. Android users can download an Android Media Console app too. Power User Tip: Log in with your library card number before searching to see extra content available only for Princeton Public Library cardholders. 
  • Read an ebook through Axis360: This is our newest ebook collection which offers ereading in epub or “Blio” format. The Blio reading experience is amazing — download the blio app for your desktop, phone, and/or tablet and then download some of our ebooks. Blio is a full-featured ereader for people who care about what books look like. Blio preserves typography and preserves color illustrations. You’ll love it.
  • Learn a new language with Mango: Would you like to learn a new language?  You can do it right on your phone or tablet!  Sign up with your PPL library card, and then download the app.

We have many other services that can be delivered right to your phone or tablet. Use the comments area below to let us know what you think, and what other library services or content you’d like to see on your phone.

Just For Fun
Bonus Question: How many songs with the phrase “Call Me” can you find in Freegal?  (Your library card opens the door to Freegal, letting you download free music right to your phone or tablet — download your mobile app today!)

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