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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Portable Telephone  
  The essence of a cell phone.  

Matt Dodson is walking with a friend.

"Say, your telephone is sounding."

"Oh!" Matt fumbled in his pouch and got out his phone.

"Hello?"

"That you, son?" came his father's voice.

Technovelgy from Space Cadet, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Scribner's Sons in 1948
Additional resources -

Another interesting feature of this passage is that it is the friend who hears the cell phone, not the owner of the phone. How many times have you had to point out to someone that their phone was going off?

Heinlein fans should also note the "pommel phone" in his excellent 1951 novel Between Planets:

A few hundred yards further on Lazy [the horse] shied again, not from a snake this time but from an unexpected noise. Don pulled him in and spoke severely. "You bird-brained butterball! When are you going to learn not to jump when the telephone rings?"

Lazy twitched his shoulder muscles and snorted. Don reached for the pommel, removed the phone, and answered. "Mobile 6-J-233309, Don Harvey speaking."

See also the pocketphone from Heinlein's 1953 novel Assignment in Eternity. In this novel, he coins a better name.

As far as I know, the first reference to a pocket-sized telephone occurs in John Jones's Dollar by Harry Stephen Keeler, published in The Black Cat magazine in 1915; see the pocket wireless phone.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Space Cadet
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Space Cadet
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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