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Australia’s first mobile call was received 30 years ago — and how times have changed

Melissa Meehan, February 23, 2017 5:45PM Herald Sun

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IT’S been 30 years since Australia’s first official mobile phone call.

Then communications minister Michael Duffy answered the call from Telecom Australia managing director Mel Ward at the Sydney Opera House at 10.42am on February 23, 1987.

The phone was big and bulky, weighing more than half a kilogram, could only hold 16 numbers and couldn’t send a text message or get online.

Kylie See holding 1987 design motorola mobile phone 22 Feb 2005. 1980s /Telephones media_cameraA 1987 Motorola mobile phone. Picture: Herald Sun

It is a huge difference to the technology most Australians have access to today.

In the decades* that followed, there was a huge shift in mobile phone technology.

The heavy and expensive bricks* have turned into digital, slimline, pocket-sized mini computers capable* of connecting its users to anyone, anywhere.

What was once used to make calls now has multiple* functions including internet, music, video, email, SMS, photography, even banking as well as making a call.

But the game changed with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. It’s hard to believe it was only 10 years ago. There were apps, internet — it truly was a handheld computer.

Mobile phones with digital cameras at Adelaide Aquatic Centre 11 Jun 2003. telephones media_cameraMobile phones with digital cameras in 2003. Picture: News Corp

And many now couldn’t imagine life without some kind of smartphone.


decades: a 10-year period between, say, 1980 and 1990, or 2010 and 2010

bricks: a house brick size

capable: able

multiple: more than one



Activity 1: How the phones have changed!

Compare and Contrast Australia’s first mobile phone to what is available today.

Draw a Venn Diagram (Two large circles that overlap – make sure the overlap has enough space to write in).

Label one circle ‘First Mobile Phones’ and the other one ‘Today’s mobile phones’.

List the features of each phone in the Venn Diagram. Some are listed in the article. Some are implied and you may use prior knowledge or do some further research (Perhaps ask someone who had a mobile phone in the 1990s?) to help you with some more.

Write features that are true for both phones in the overlapped section of the circle. For example; both can be used to make phone calls. If it is only true of one write it in the rest of the circle under the correct label. When you have finished see if you can come up with a short paragraph that compares and contrasts mobile phone technology in the 1980s and today.

Extension: Imagine that no one had invented the mobile phone at all. Write down all the things people do with their mobile phones now and suggest how they would do the same thing without a mobile phone. Rule up a two column chart to organise your ideas. Label one column ‘With a Mobile’ and the other ‘Without a Mobile’

Time: allow about 45 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, Design and Digital Technology

Activity 2: Mobile phones – for better or worse?

The improvement in mobile phone technology has made a positive impact to our daily lives. We can call people from just about anywhere, send written messages, access the internet while we are out, purchase and store our favourite music. However, there are also some disadvantages. You have an extra ‘thing’ to carry with you, it costs money and people can contact you anytime they like. (Your boss can call even when you are on holidays!).

Brainstorm all the positives and negatives of having a mobile phone. Write an exposition (persuasive text) on whether you think having a mobile phone is a good idea. Clearly state your opinion in the first paragraph. Give at least three reasons with some supporting evidence to support your opinion.

Extension: Interview a teacher at your school, your parents/carers, grandparents or a family friend about how technology has improved during their lifetime.

Think of some questions that you could ask them to find out what technology was like when they were a child and compare this to now. Some areas you might like to ask about are…

Transportation, Entertainment (for example; TV, Movies, Music), Heating/Cooling,

Cooking, Work, School

Here are some questions to get you started… (You do not have to use these)

* How has development in technology made your life easier? Has it made it harder in any way?

* Can you remember your first Television? What was it like? How is it different to your television today?

* Can you remember using something that you can no longer purchase easily?

* Did you have a computer when you were a child? What did you use it for? Do you have one now? What do you use it for now?

* How did people listen to music when you were a child? Did it change as you got older? How did your parents or Grandparents listen to music?

Time: allow at least 60 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, The Humanities — History

VCOP Activity

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)

The Name Game

Play as a pair or within a small group.The objective of this game is to have a player say a vocabulary word. (Ideally a noun, adjective, verb or adverb.)

After they say their word, the next player must say a word that begins with the last letter in player 1s word

Eg: Player 1 – Dangerous

Player 2 – Slippery

Player 3 – Yellow

Time: allow about 15 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP







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