I do not own a cell phone. For most of the 1990s I was convinced that wireless phones were nothing more than a passing fad. In more recent years I've held a similar disdain for PDAs, digital cameras and MP3 players. My philosophy was: Who needs all this junk? In my crotchety, old-fashioned view, technological innovation reached its pinnacle in the 1970s with the introduction of the Technics SL-1300 turntable and the Canon A-1 camera. Now those were great gadgets.
But my attitude changed last year when my wife acquired both a cell phone and a BlackBerry for sending and receiving e-mail wirelessly. (She works in the political arena, where BlackBerries seem to be particularly popular.) She became expert at punching out messages on the BlackBerry's keyboard with her thumbs. At odd moments during the day, when the kids were relatively quiet, I would find her clutching the device in a sort of trance, her eyes focused on its drab green screen. After a while I started to get jealous. So, in a classic case of marital one-upmanship, I decided to obtain an even more impressive communications system.
This article was originally published with the title Gadget Envy.