Was it just 25 years ago, give or take? Yes, it was. I was the epitome of a nerd. I had three devices hooked to my pants belt in holsters with belt clip thingies. One for my cellphone (a flip phone if I recall correctly), one for my pager (do you remember those?), and one for my e-mail-only BlackBerry. No wonder people often called me Inspector Gadget.
Sheesh, all I needed was a pocket protector or a large ink stain surfacing on my shirt pocket to complete the picture.
The cellphone was my personal device. But the pager and the BlackBerry and SkyTel pager were company issued. The pager was so that if my boss needed me, he could send me a page. He had instructed me to call him within two minutes of receiving the page or else. I always wondered “or else what?” But I didn’t have the balls to ask.
The BlackBerry was given to me so that I could receive and send corporate emails, meaning I was expected to read and respond to emails 24×7. This was before BlackBerry added phone capabilities to its devices.
And then everything changed when RIM, the company behind the BlackBerry, introduced a new combo Blackberry that included a cellphone. Suddenly I was able to merge everything into a single device and to drop down to only one device holstered to my belt. It was nothing short of brilliant.
Just about every business professional had a BlackBerry with them and the BlackBerry device literally ruled the nascent smartphone market.
Then Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007 and it was a game-changer. The iPhone had this magical touch screen where you could re-size the image with a pinch of your fingers. It had a virtual, rather than a physical, keypad. It had fast, easy web browsing. And it had apps. It had a camera, for crissake. You could not only get your e-mails, make phone calls, send text messages, and take pictures, you could access the internet, play games, and run all manner of cool apps. People gobbled the iPhone up.
I was a BlackBerry loyalist and pretty much held out from abandoning it to the iPhone. But in 2010, my company officially approved the iPhone as an alternative to the BlackBerry. Sorry BlackBerry, but at some point even an old fart like me had to admit that the time had come to stop buying records and to start downloading music from iTunes.
Yet I stubbornly continued to wear my iPhone in a holster attached to my belt. Until my wife and kids began to shun me. “You look like such a dork,” my daughter told me. My son told me it made me look geeky. And my wife said I looked like a nerd.
So about two years ago, much to the delight of my family, I gave up the holster and belt clip and started carrying my iPhone on my back hip pocket.
How cool does that make me? Old fart my ass!