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Family Tree of mobile
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Phonepoint hardware (late 1980s) : the walkabout phone going nowhere

In the 1980s mobile phones were a new technology beyond the reach of most people. However the technology existed for a smaller, cheaper, alternative idea - the 'telepoint'

'Phonepoint' was one of four 'telepoint' systems, and let people with cordless telephones at home take them into town to use there. As long as you stood within near sight of the 'Phonepoint' base station, you could make a call through your home telephone account, paying a premium rate. The system didn't allow calls to be received when out and about though.

This picture shows one of the signs which were to be seen outside banks, post offices and train stations. It showed users where they could make calls. Also shown is a later model handset. Similar devices were used by the other companies: Rabbit, Mercury Callpoint & 'Zonephone'.

The technology was good but the idea wasn't. A better system had actually already been invented 100 years earlier - it was called a telephone box. Alongside such established competition, and pressure from the new cellular telephones, the 'telepoint' companies soon.

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