What is a pager: the rise and fall of the era of the progenitor of the cell phone

In the era of the digital revolution in communication technologies, few people remember and know what a pager is. Meanwhile, we are talking about the "ancestor" of modern mobile phones and smartphones, without which it is impossible to imagine our life.

History of appearance

The urgent need for a means of radio notification of mobile emergency units through the dispatcher - and primarily the police and firefighters - largely contributed to the appearance of the first pagers in the 1920s and 1930s. last century. The first to use them were the police and the US army.

In the mid-50s, the British company Multitone developed and commissioned a paging system in a London hospital, consisting of a transmitter of coded signals and receiving devices. They were given to doctors and the management of the medical institution. If there was an urgent need to find someone, then an individual sound signal was sent to his receiving device (beeper), after which the subscriber contacted the management in any way possible.

Only a small part of the variety of models

How the pager works

The pager can function as part of a paging (from the English. To page - call) network of a personal radio call. To contact the desired subscriber, you must first contact the operator of the paging company by phone, name the subscriber's number and dictate the message.

Further, a special transmitter is switched on - a base station that transmits a signal to the desired subscriber to an individual receiving device, which is constantly in the “listening” mode of the air and responds to a message that comes to the unique number assigned to it. And already being in active mode, the pager displays the received message on the display.


Pagers in the USSR and Russia

Initially, the use of pagers in the USSR was focused only on certain government agencies, in particular, the ambulance service and the KGB. It was there that they first appeared in the 60s.

They became especially in demand in 1980 during the XXII Olympic Games in Moscow. Thanks to the British company Multitone, which deployed the Radiopoisk network, it was possible to ensure coordination and interaction of all services responsible for organizing and conducting OI-80.

Paging network Radio search

Later, in the mid-90s, the first Russified general-use pagers, produced by the same Multitone, MIT-472, appeared in Russia. The device could be purchased for $ 380, with monthly subscriptions ranging from $ 100 to $ 300. In addition to messages, subscribers had access to information about the weather, traffic jams and exchange rates.

However, federal level paging operators never appeared in Russia. Everything was limited to a small number of local operators, barely able to meet the needs of their region and part of the neighboring ones. There was no such thing as "roaming" at all. The user of the pager, due to the lack of a SIM card, was also deprived of the opportunity to connect to the new operator.

By the end of the 90s, every tenth resident owned pagers in large cities; in the provinces, this figure did not exceed 1%. Using the pager cost its owner from 100 to 300 rubles per month, and the device itself cost from 800 to 3000 rubles.

Fall of the Pager Age

In the 90s, pagers had a serious competitor, which eventually became their gravedigger - a cell phone. At first, nothing foreshadowed such a sad end: pagers outright outplayed the newly-minted competitors in terms of affordability.

However, everything changed with the reduction in the cost of cellular tariffs. The final, in fact, "control shot" was the rapid development of the SMS-messaging service. Over time, mobile phones have become available to almost everyone.

The Last of the Mohicans

And yet, despite the total domination of the rapidly developing cellular communication, there is no need to talk about the complete dying out of paging communication.

As Leonty Ogarok, the founder of Telekomt LLC, said in an interview with the radio station "Moscow Govorit", today the demand for pagers remains. Their clients are large customers using individual receiving devices for prompt notification of personnel - we are talking about the Kola NPP and the Kremlin hospital.

Japan says goodbye to pagers

The United States is also in no hurry to get rid of pagers completely. Until now, about 90% of American hospitals use the services of this rarity of the "home" era. Oddly enough, but the pager still has not lost some of its advantages: it picks up the network better, it is reliable and autonomous (its battery can last more than two weeks without charging). In addition to the above - the right person is easier to find when he has a pager with him.

But Japan seems to have finally said goodbye to pagers. The last operator, Tokyo Telemessage, informed its remaining 1, 500 customers in September 2019 to stop sending messages. We have to give credit to the company for keeping the devices running 20 years after they ceased production in 1998.