On technology, a quick poll

March 30, 2012

At what age did you get your first cell phone and what excuse reason drove your decision? (I ask due to a tangential line of thought emerging from comment from a LaTex fan decrying the technological conservatism of the Academy.)

I was 31 and there was wedding planning involved.

No Responses Yet to “On technology, a quick poll”

  1. proflikesubstance Says:

    I was 30 and there was a pregnancy involved.


  2. Dr Becca Says:

    23, and I honestly don’t remember what drove the decision, but I haven’t had a land line since.


  3. proflikesubstance Says:

    So, I’m guessing I got a cell phone 10-12 years after you?


  4. Pascale Says:

    For my 32nd birthday. I had to answer a page and ended up soaked to the bone after dealing with a patient’s high potassium at those open-air pay phones, the only kind I could find, in a snow storm. I bitched enough that night that hubby got me one.

    Now you can’t even find a payphone.


  5. Odyssey Says:

    35. First kid had just arrived and I had to travel.


  6. Lance Turtle Says:

    I was 24 or 25 and everyone else had one, so I got one too!


  7. Bashir Says:

    16, when I got a car for “emergencies”.

    We were an early technology adopting household.


  8. iGrrrl Says:

    37, I think, because I was a consultant and needed a business line. For the record it was a Handspring device. Remember those? They had modules you could plug into them, and one was a cell phone. I’ve never not had a smartphone.


  9. Chebag Says:

    What’s a “pay phone” Pascale?


  10. Jason G. Goldman Says:

    16, when I got my drivers license


  11. alethea Says:

    16, when I got my drivers license. (But at the time I only had like 50 minutes a month, it was strictly for emergencies). I got texting at 22 for wedding planning purposes and I still don’t have a smartphone (though my husband does – as far as I can tell it’s primary purpose is taking photos of our dog).


  12. neuromusic Says:

    16, when I got my driver’s license and first car


  13. CoR Says:

    16, when I started driving and working at a fast-food joint.


  14. rs Says:

    33, not sure why, but everyone else around had it.


  15. BeckyPhD Says:

    16. I won the phone as a door prize so my parents got me a plan with 30 minutes per month on it for emergencies.


  16. K.B. Says:

    34, job required me to drive for hours, alone, in the middle of nowhere, Saskatchewan, looking for weeds. Great job though.


  17. 12, when my parents were divorced and my sister and I were in separate after-school activities.


  18. juniorprof Says:

    I was about 25 and was frustrated at cost of landlines


  19. Yael Says:

    When I was 18, working at my first job and planning to live on campus in college.


  20. drugmonkey Says:

    How about first email address that you used regularly? I was early 20s….


  21. Tim Says:

    24, when I was in grad school and my wife and I were expecting our first kid.

    no one but she had the number, to minimize the number of heart attack-inducing rings as I waited for “the call.” That didn’t stop the wrong numbers, unfortunately.


  22. Amanda Says:

    22, when I moved out of state for grad school. It was much easier than sharing a landline with housemates.


  23. physioprof Says:

    First e-mail address I ever had was physioprof@mit.edu.


  24. Arlenna Says:

    WTF proflike–we are about the same age and you didn’t get a cellphone until you were 30?? dude.

    I got my first one when I was about 20, because that’s about when they started being commonplace and I was hardly ever home in one place for a landline in college.


  25. Arlenna Says:

    first email address I used regularly I was 14, and it was a prodigy account.


  26. 18, when I went to college.


  27. becca Says:

    I was 25 (2009) for the cell phone, and Carebear got it for me out of frustration (the fact I was pregnant had something to do with it).
    I’ve had my own email since my family got dialup internet (becca@famvid.com), back when I was 13 or 14.


  28. I was 17 when I got my first cell phone, because I went on vacation and my parents wanted to be able to reach me (didn’t work because I forgot the charger ;-)..)
    I got my first email address before that, I think when I was 14 or 15.


  29. anon Says:

    Cell phone: 14, to help coordinate with parents/rides between all the after school activities I was involved in.

    E-mail: 13, Sailor Moon fan forums! I’m a dork, and totally don’t use that e-mail address anymore.

    (This was in the late 90s fyi.)


  30. Isis the Scientist Says:

    I hear nowadays all the kids have them


  31. Isis the Scientist Says:

    Addendum: The real question is, when did you begin texting?


  32. DrugMonkey Says:

    oh just ask what you really want to ask Isis….


  33. email address? i used a yahoo email address as early as…13 or 14 years old?


  34. leigh Says:

    i wanna say 16… had no other phone options, so i got a cell phone.

    my first regular email address was my university email, so i was 18.


  35. Larry Moran Says:

    It was 1992. My daughter was getting her driver’s license and I wanted her to have a phone in the car.

    My first personal email address was in 1982 but I was using a server email address in 1979. I was receiving email to my account in 1968 (44 years ago) but I couldn’t send messages at that time.


  36. Jen Says:

    I got my first cell phone in 1998, when I was 25 years old. My grandmother insisted on it, because in order to get to the high school where I taught at the time, I had to drive through some dicey neighborhoods. Grandma was paranoid my car would break down in the middle of one of those neighborhoods, hence the phone.


  37. anonymous postdoc Says:

    I got one for myself when I was 20, because my friend was going to get one so I hitched a ride with her – previously I thought you had to have some kind of a credit rating to get one. That was in the early aughts. The number has stayed the same through four states from college to postdoc.

    I got my first hotmail account when I was 14 so I could chat with my internet boyfriend. It didn’t last.


  38. Dr Becca Says:

    First email freshman year of college. I remember them trying to explain email during my college visit campus tour junior year of HS– “It’s like you write someone a letter, and it shows up on their computer!” Heh.


  39. Bashir Says:

    Regular use of email maybe around 16 also. Sporadic use before that. Compuserve or some such.


  40. bill Says:

    Email 24 (grad school); cell phone 40 (biotech job required it).


  41. Sxydocma1 Says:

    I had my first email account my freshman year in 1998 through my university server. I don’t think I got a cell phone until grad school. It was one of the first Nokias. It was gold and full of awesome.


  42. icee Says:

    I just sent my first text this month. I am 33.


  43. Cell phone: 21 (first year of my PhD), when I started cycling to the lab every day on a route that included secluded paths by the river, the canal, and then through the woods. Prompted specifically by my roommate seeing a flasher in the woods while cycling the same route about an hour before I passed through the woods myself.

    Email: 18 (first year of undergrad). I was vaguely aware of the existence of email and the internet before that, but never thought to look into it until I got my @ncl.ac.uk on my first day!

    I think I got my first chain joke email approximately 22 seconds later.


  44. queenrandom Says:

    20 or 21? I got it because my parents decided to get a family plan and offered to add one for me & have me pay my portion…at $10 a month it was WAY cheaper than a landline. I haven’t had a landline since.

    First email was juno, first im was ICQ, both in 1998 – my then boyfriend (now husband) went to college and I was still stuck in high school, and long distance was expensive.

    Got my first computer of my own in 1999 for graduating HS. It was a Quantex and you could still choose to use DOS and it was awesome. Lasted me til grad school.


  45. Jen Says:

    First email account: my freshman year of college (1991), my calculus prof set up a class account (may have been a BITNET?) that closed once the course ended. Two years later, the university opened up email to the entire campus, so that was my first “real” account.


  46. HennaHonu Says:

    15: when my parents divorced and I got a driving permit. After school activities were a strong factor. Most people didn’t have them yet.
    I wrote web pages when I was little… belonged to a group called webgrrls at 11. I must have had an email address by 1994-5.


  47. katiesci Says:

    First cell phone at 19 (1997). My late husband and I had just moved to a different city than our parents. Long distance charges were expensive and cell phones were new and cool. It was a big, bulky grey flip phone. It was awesome and way cooler than my dad’s giant car-phone-in-bag that he kept in his semi truck.

    Regular email? My freshman year. I was 21 and it was 1999. I had email in high school but rarely used it.


  48. I got mine at 17 (2000) when I was just about to begin undergrad since I lived at home and commuted (the excuse)…my parents always wanted to know where I was if I was studying late in the library or whatever.

    Had a yahoo email before this…late 90s, don’t remember actual year, but it was during high school sometime (1996-1999). Prior to HS I lived in a country that had no in-country ISPs; hence I wasn’t ever allowed on the internet since making an international call made it too frivolous.


  49. PinkGlitteryBrain Says:

    I was 14 because I was the oldest of a bunch of 3 of my cousin, my brother and myself who took a bus then train to and from school in 1998. If we missed our train I was supposed to call my grandmother, since she was our ride.

    But you should really be asking what age AND what year. I was 14 and it was 1998. If you were 31 in 98 then I dont think its all that much of a difference. And for the record I hated my cell for the first 2 years that I had it( I was the only one in my class who had a phone).


  50. Crystaldoc Says:

    Cell phone – 35, 8 months pg with first child, spouse headed to a conference in Australia (2003).
    E-mail – grad school, I think, mid 90’s.
    Texting – that came with the iPhone only recently, last year or two.
    I guess I’m a late adopter 🙂


  51. D. C. Sessions Says:

    I was 49, and my best childhood friend died when I was out of contact at a conference.


  52. biochembelle Says:

    My family got a (yes, “a” as in single) cell phone when I was 15 or 16. It was only in my possession when I was driving somewhere other than hometown by myself. I got a personal cell a year or two later since I was commuting to college and was away from home all day.

    First email was around the same time as family cell phone, late ’90s. There wasn’t much point before that, as at the time, internet access was to be found only at public or school libraries and the homes of tech geeks.

    Picked up texting just a few years ago. Spouse had a co-worker friend who only communicated via text (he literally would never answer if someone called), and spouse soon picked up the habit and drug me along.


  53. drugmonkey Says:

    Txt is far superior to actually talking to someone, biochemme.


  54. Heavy Says:

    31 and for emergency calls from relatively remote field site (although not so remote that I didn’t have cell reception after climbing a tree)


  55. Jim Thomerson Says:

    When I was 75, last year, my son bought me a cell phone.


  56. I don’t even remember, but the email address first. My parents were convinced I’d be mugged for the phone.


  57. NatC Says:

    23. It was landline vs cell phone. Cell phone was cheaper.
    The only landline I had after that was paid for by my landlord and used only for his calls (and telemarketers).


  58. Early adopter Says:

    Cell phone: early 1993.

    Email: 1988

    Texting: (curiously enough, given the answers above) 2009.


  59. fusilier Says:


    My Beloved and Darling Wife thought hers had been lost, so she cancelled everything and bought a newer one. Six months later she found it under the seat of her truck and told me that I needed this so she could get hold of me in an emergency.

    Not quite four years later, I’ve still got that phone while she (and Daughter #2) are up to an iPhone 3 GS

    If I don’t recognize a caller, but if I feel like answering, I’ll answer “Cadaver room.”


    James 2:24


  60. Janet D. Stemwedel Says:

    When I was 31.5, at the behest of my in-laws, since I was commuting about 40 miles (each way) with their only grandchild (then two months old) and they had visions of us broken down on the side of the freeway falling prey to vultures or zombies or something.

    Within the last month, we broke down and got the eldest Free-Ride offspring (12.5) a (non-smart) cell phone, owing to her dependence on a sometimes flaky “school route” county bus to get to and from the junior high (nearly 3 miles each way). Back when I was in junior high …


  61. Rebekah Dekker Says:

    I was 44, living in Jerusalem, when the principal of our kids’ school insisted I get one in case the school had to be evacuated. At that moment, it seemed like a really, really good idea.


  62. DJMH Says:

    First cell in 2000 after graduating college and finding there was no point in having a landlin. Also was doing a lot of tutoring so kids and parents could reach me.

    First email in 1994 or thereabouts, largely to hang out with my boyfriend in the comp lab.

    On the general question, I think a lot of people don’t have a consistently techy or non techy approach…it is ad hoc, according to needs and whims. So I have an iPad 2 but a cheapo stupid phone.


  63. V.C. Wald Says:

    I finally broke down and got a cell phone right after September 11, as I realized the potential to need to contact family and friends in a mega-disaster in which my (or their) office and/or home were destroyed, phone lines cut, etc. I didn’t love it then, and I don’t love my 3G smart phone now.


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