View Full Version : Pagers/beepers

05-28-2014, 12:46 AM
Does anyone know how widely these we're used in the 80's? Eg, what percentage of the population had one, or were they only used by doctors and the like?

05-28-2014, 12:54 AM
Many people carried pagers, no clue about %. I carried one for my job, working in residential treatment.

05-28-2014, 12:57 AM
I remember my dad had one. He was a salesman and was out of the office a lot, so the office would beep him if they needed him. I think they were pretty commonly used by people who worked out and about versus in the office. And drug dealers probably used them. ;)

05-28-2014, 01:29 AM
Bloody hell, you make it sound like ancient history! I remember when they were considered high-tech and cool :-)

Most people who were on call from work had them - e.g. medical staff, veterinarians, utility workers, computer support personnel etc... I remember I got paid to be on call and have a pager with me over weekends.

In the general population though, you didn't have one unless you needed one.

05-28-2014, 04:51 AM
Thank you, all--wonderfully helpful!

05-28-2014, 05:38 AM
I knew lots of people who had them: realtors, engineers, property managers, insurance agents, personal assistants, electricians, plumbers...

05-28-2014, 09:15 AM
Buffy had one, which is all you really need to know, obviously.

05-28-2014, 01:49 PM
I had one, too.

Beeep- beep!

Now what? Who do I have to call or where am I being sent now? And where's the nearest darned phone?

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-28-2014, 02:08 PM
My Dad used to be given one of he was "on call" - it was a small black thing which could clip onto his belt if necessary. He worked in mainframe computing for a multi-national company which had one of its bases in the deepest, darkest depths of South London.

If the beeper beeped* - at whatever time of the day or night - he'd have to phone work and, if he couldn't tell them how to sort the problem over the phone, get in the car and head for Croydon. This would have been in the 80s and early 90s.

* without fail eliciting an "Oh, bloody hell!" :D

M.N Thorne
05-28-2014, 03:20 PM
All of people had beepers during the 80s to mid 90s. Everyone from doctors to real estate agents to police officers had one.

05-28-2014, 03:24 PM
They didn't last too long over here in the UK and were quickly replaced by car phones that in turn got replaced by the present mobiles.

05-28-2014, 06:20 PM
These beeper anecdotes are great. I think someone needs to write (or edit an anthology of) a short story collection featuring beepers. Or car phones- any outdated technological conveniences would do!

05-28-2014, 06:22 PM
In the mid-90s when I was a sales rep, I had a pager and a mobile phone for work. If I remember right, it was because incoming calls cost a fortune compared to outgoing. Or something like that. So the office would page me, and I'd call them back on the mobile. It seemed so handy and high-tech at the time.

05-28-2014, 06:52 PM
I remember phoning a farmer customer and during the conversation it turned out he had to refer to a document. He said he was in the barn but would have to go back to the house to get it so I said he could phone me back and we chatted on for a few minutes, before he suddenly said "Here it is. What was the amount you were questioning?"

I couldn't understand how he could have talked to me and then suddenly be 'back in the house'.

"I thought you were in the barn," I said.

"I was," he replied, "but I walked across the field and back to the house."

It's accepted as normal now, but at the time it was quite surprising, and before I twigged he had one of these new-fangled cordless phones, my first vision was of him with miles of flex dragging out behind him from the barn to the house.

05-28-2014, 07:29 PM
I still carry an f'n pager sometimes.
Hospitals are the last great bastion of beeping pocket crap-alarms.

05-28-2014, 08:07 PM
Does anyone know how widely these we're used in the 80's? Eg, what percentage of the population had one, or were they only used by doctors and the like?
Which 1980's? Early 1980's they were primarily used by professionals who were often away from a phone. Late 1980's, even school kids had them. Drug dealers had several.

They are dirt cheap compared to cell phones and still in use in many areas today.


05-28-2014, 10:20 PM
I still carry an f'n pager sometimes.
Hospitals are the last great bastion of beeping pocket crap-alarms.

True... Many hospitals still use pagers; some are on restricted LANs. Security/confidentiality issues are not so much of an inherent problem as may be presented with cell phones. Potential interference with certain medical equipment is a concern. Many health care facilities discourage or prohibit on site cell phone usage; appropriate signage is typically prominently displayed.

05-28-2014, 10:33 PM
A decade is a long time in technology terms.

In 1980, there were only about 3 million pagers in use worldwide. By 1989, they were much more common, but they didn't really hit their heyday until the mid 90s. Since then, they have gradually been overshadowed by cell phones.

If you're in 1980, then you're probably talking on-call doctors and emergency workers, and others with truly urgent time-sensitive work. By 1989, they still weren't as ubiquitous as cell phones are today, but they were fairly common.

Debbie V
06-02-2014, 11:50 PM
I know of a few cows who have pagers. They are trained to come home when the pager goes off - no joke. My husband worked in billing for pagers. One day, I'm writing a picture book with this theme. I just need to do more research to get the plot.

I'll ask him for details if you specify a year or two. The whole decade is a long time.