When will “phone” go the way of “car”?

I left for work last month. I remembered to pick up:

  • My phone
  • My BlackBerry(tm) email device
  • My dictaphone
  • My Moleskin(tm) notebook for those sketches and ideas
  • My contact notebook
  • A map of my route on my SatNav
  • A shopping list
  • My MP3 player

I examine my laptop, but decide that I don’t need access to the internet while I’m travelling, and I don’t want the extra weight – I’m already heavily laden!

I struggle to my ‘car’. As I load all the equipment in, I marvel at the thought that ‘car’ is short for “horseless carriage”, but no-one nowadays considers it to be anything related to horses.

When I arrived home that night, I had some treasured time playing with my son. We read a few “Bob the builder” stories. Bob answers his “cordless phone”.

“Dad, what’s a cordless phone?” my son asks. He’s three years old.

“Um…it’s… [I cast around for an example to contrast the cordless phone against, and draw a complete blank]…it’s a phone.” He’s never seen a corded phone. All phones are cordless. In the four years since Bob was written and he was born, all phones are now cordless.

Just the other day, I went to the office again. This time, I took all the same stuff as above, plus a movie or two, and a library of books, plus the latest photos from all my friends and family. All on my mobile telephone.

My phone.

As I sat in my horseless carriage, watching the omnibuses picking up passengers, I thought of how the word ‘phone’ stands for so much more than it did even a few months ago.

How long, I wonder, until we have to explain why it is called a phone? I imagine the conversation. (“it used to transport voices, son, from place to place” “What, not the whole person? Did it not show holograms? What if you needed to judge someone’s character or forcefully make a point using body language?” “We used to wave our hands about, and no-one would see it, son.”)

I guess about six months.

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