Pagers - History of Pagers


Before the widespread production of cell phones, there was only one sure way to quickly contact a person: a pager. These devices work by sending a message through a touch-tone telephone, which is then received by the pager carried by the contacted person. The pager then sounds an audible or vibration alert to let the owner know about the receipt of a message. Typically a phone number or message is displayed on the pager's screen detailing a short message.

Al Gross patented the first pager in 1949, and this device was used first within the New York City Jewish Hospital. However, at this time the device could only be purchased by businesses, and not by specific individuals.

Once the pager was approved for individual use in 1958, Motorola introduced the first commercial pager in 1959. This pager worked by receiving and conveying a short a radio message. It was a huge success, and by 1980 there were over 3.2 million worldwide users!

Despite the popularity during the 1980s, pagers had a relatively small communications range. Generally, messages could only be sent within the same building, like a hospital or factory. However, by the 1990 advancements made in pager technology had allowed for wide-area paging across many miles. This new ability resulted in over 61 million pagers being purchased throughout the world by 1994.

Today, the demand for pagers has significantly decreased from its peak nearly 20 years previous. Currently pagers are mainly only used by select doctors and hospitals. However, this population is rapidly decreasing its need for pagers as well.

As with older technology, cell phones have advanced and replaced its use in society. Despite this, the pager remains a foundation for one-way communication and the basis for modern text messaging, allowing it to be remembered as a useful, but outdated, technological advancement.

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