Mobile Phone Milestone

vintage illustration commuter businesman train phone

Vintage advertising Illustration 1946 P.R. Mallory & Co.

Constant cell phone chatter has become a chief complaint among train commuters.

Hoping for some peace and quiet on their commute, some trains have even set up designated “quiet cars” banning cell phone conversation.

Oh, how times have changed.

To the go-getter  Post-War businessman the concept of conducting a business deal in California via the phone while riding on the 6:14 train home to Connecticut,  was just one more miraculous post-war promise dangled before the eager American public.

A 1946 ad from P.R.Mallory & Company, a U.S producers of dry cell batteries as well as electrical and electronic components, fairly gushed about the development of the wonder of train radio that would soon be available to the American public.

technology trains telephones illustration businesman

Vintage Ad -P.R.Mallory & Co. Electrical and Electronic Parts 1946

“Someday soon your favorite “limited” will be a radio station on wheels” the ad begins.

“ As you ride the luxury train of tomorrow, telephone calls, originating anywhere in the U.S. or even beyond, will be transmitted by railroad radio to passengers. Passengers, in turn, will be able to communicate with any person who owns a telephone.”

Imagine that!

“Fantastic? Not at all,” they boast. “Already railroad radio is an accepted, though limited, factor in train operation. It is used in routing freight, directing traffic, reporting or preventing equipment breakdowns.”

Mobile Communications

WWII Motorola Radio Ads soldiers

Vintage Ads WWII Motorola Handie Talkies 1944

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first mobile phone call being placed, but mobile communications have been around for some time.

During WWII soldiers used 2 way radio transceiver walkie talkies  to communicate for the front lines. Developed by Motorola Electronics Engineers, the “Handie Talkie” was a battery-powered radio receiver and transmitter no larger than a cracker box.

“In a war of vast spaces, swift movement and violent action…radio communication must not fail. Information transmitted with split second speed via the Handie Talkie, the bantam weight portable two-way radiotelephone.”

This was such a novel idea that the  ad gives instructions on how to use the device: “The operator talks, giving information, and listens, receiving instructions. Officers and men call it the fightingest radio in the army!

Post War Promises

WWII vintage ad, illustration man fishing

Vintage Ad 1944 Seagram’s Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

A Motorola had provided the army with Walkie Talkies so it was a natural assumption that they would catch on with the post war civilian.

In an ad from Seagram’s Canadian Whiskey entitled ” Men Who Plan For Tomorrow ” they predicted a world of mobile communications modeled on the Handie Talkie.

“When you’ve caught your creeful of trout in a stream miles from anywhere, you can reach your wife by your personal, portable radio-telephone…ask her to invite the neighbors for dinner….

“Then driving home in your car, you can tell her just what time to expect you!…Fantastic? The portable radio telephone is already in use by our Armed Forces. Today’s weapon, tomorrows convenience!”

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved



  1. calahan

    The Seagram’s ad also has the hidden message of “If you spend a lot of time drinking alone, you’re gonna jump at the chance to talk someone’s ear off.”


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