A comprehensive history of mobile technology.
It’s easy to take mobile technology for granted given how seamlessly it is woven into modern life. As first-time author Date explains, wireless communication has gone from “ubiquity to invisibility.” In this timely book, Date pulls back the curtain on the history of mobile innovation and lays bare its complex evolution. While the book is thematically centered on the hand-held communicative device, the investigation is historically far-reaching, beginning in the 19th century with considerably cruder gadgets that presaged the wireless world. Date walks the reader through these earlier, more primitive iterations—Alexander Graham Bell’s photophone, radio, and the whole cosmos of “hub-and-spoke networks”—until he finally gets to the iPhone, “the logical culmination of over 200 years of discovery and innovation in mobile telephony.” The wide-ranging study covers not only the technology, but its commercial applications, so readers will learn a lot about the way wireless technology has situated itself in various industries, including health care, finance, and the military. Readers also encounter surprisingly actionable information regarding what makes an app successful as well as an extended discussion of “Time Division Duplexing,” which “gets both parties in a conversation to send and receive on the same carrier frequency channel.” Given the book’s forays into technical aspects, its prose is remarkably clear. Along the way, the book is spangled with photographs of innovators and old-school technology—some of it comically clunky—as well as accessible graphics that help explain complex technical concepts. The investigation also explores the very nature of innovation itself and its part in “the desire of human beings to freely communicate over long distances without being tethered to wires and cables.” In fact, one wishes the author invested a bit more in this subject and the more expansive societal implications of this new technology. Still, this effort remains an impressively panoramic account and a thoughtful one at that.
A commendable exploration of the technology and ideas supporting our wireless world.