Eric Limer of Gizmodo explains why mobile phones don't have a dial tone.
Meanwhile, Phil Porter, who had worked with [Richard] Frenkiel on the original system, came up with a permanent answer to an interesting question. Should a cellular phone have a dial tone? Porter made a radical suggestion that it shouldn't. A caller should dial a number and then push "send." That way, the mobile caller would be less rushed; also, the call would be connected for a shorter time, thus putting less strain on the network. That this ideadial, then sendwould later prove crucial to texting technology was not even considered.
Typing everything in and hitting enter may seem like second nature to us tech savvy folks, but it's weird to think that the change was actually an explicit choice, even a jarring on to older folks; phones like the Jitterbug still go out of their way to emulate a dial tone for old time's sake.
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