Push-to-talk: Remember when phones were walkie-talkies?

Gather round kids, and I'll tell you a tale of a time before text messaging was so ubiquitous, a time where a phone call was so easy, it only took one button… and man, it could be annoying. Not the tech, the people.

I'm Michael Fisher, AKA MrMobile, and I relived the glory days of flip phones and push-to-talk (so you didn't have to). Join me as I recollect what was great about this feature, what people did to ruin it, and how you too can push a button to awkwardly interrupt your friends and co-workers.

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Stay social, my friends

  • Push to talk was great! Especially in the construction field. Granted, taking PTT call in a restaurant at lunch was super annoying but the rest was really convenient
  • I'll tell you what happened..SPRINT! That is what killed PTT. I so hate that company! It's funny, because me and a buddy was just talking about chirping this weekend. I'm almost 4 years removed from being a Sprint customer. I have seen the light and hope to never ever go back to that pos!
  • I'm in construction and bought the Kyocera DuraForce Pro phone and the PTT works great. We use the Zello app for communications across town or the country.
  • There was a time when there was this company called NEXTEL provided a quality IDEN Network along with push to talk clarity. Then there was time that a company called Sprint offered the ownership group of NEXTEL a sum of money that they couldn't refuse. Because they like MONEY!! ........That's when NEXTEL and push to talk eventually became non exsistant. PTT today doesn't compare to NEXTEL, period.
  • Zello is the best
  • I was introduced to Zello while I was playing Ingress hardcore for a couple months last year.
  • Never fired a gun in my life, but I wanted to make a video game in which these people were the targets. Good lord, no one in the world wanted to hear your conversation in the first place, but to have to listen to the annoying person you're speaking to being blasted through the store/restaurant was simply unbearable. "BeeBeep" "BOOM!"
  • Yeah, I think push to talk was unlimited and back then minutes were not. So the cheap bastards would annoy and have no regards for anyone else.
  • 100+ and thumbs up to that! It's also weird that only a certain group of people used that feature and they don't know the meaning of talking quietly. So annoying, thank God's this is over!
  • For work they were great. The problem is once the public got hold, annoying as hell. I do not need to hear everyone's conversation.
  • Loved my Nextel BB. It was AWESOME
  • Nextel-style PTT is actually still alive and well in the Southeast, where we have Southern LINC. They still use the old iDEN handsets, but their coverage is outstanding. Fortunately, their customers are almost exclusively business users, so the annoyance factor is at a minimum, since their customers aren't trying to impress anyone.
  • I work for a SouthernLINC dealer. Yes mostly business customers but i deal with quite a few regular people as well. There's also some rural areas where it works that Verizon and AT&T and nothing else to this day don't have coverage so we have those as well. LINC will be going LTE in 2018 because of the lack of phone support from Motorola after being bought by Lenovo. With LTE they are going to offer rugged PTT smartphones and basic phones made by Sonim. I hope to see a review by Mr. Mobile when they come out!
  • I do not miss these things...there would always be a half-dozen people in any particular restaurant during the lunch rush talking back and forth for 20 minutes when a call probably would have made more sense. Though now, everybody does the same thing with speakerphone calls and still gets pissy when they realize you can hear everything they are saying.
  • Nextel chirp song
  • Good lord, yet another person who hates voicemail and messages for some reason. I've lived through the birth of the cell phone and way before it, so I seriously do not understand this hatred for voicemails or messages. Since when are messages getting to be too much and how in the world is PTT better than messages? There's no history, you can wait to answer messages, but if someone beeps you, you're going to feel obligated to answer right away like you do with a phone call.
  • Try and see that bullshit you spewed through the eyes of a first responder who was dependant upon that service to save lives. Voicemail and text doesn't cut it PTT was the clarity of getting lives saved.
  • I have absolutely no idea why you're being insulting and aggressive toward me. Did you see somewhere where I said PTT has no use whatsoever and anyone who does it an idiot or something?
  • It depends on what you need it for. PTT is great for short conversations, such as doing dispatching. You can also do group broadcasts, which is handy if you have several people in the field, and you need to get a message to all of them at once. Yes, it's potentially annoying but only if you aren't using it as intended. In a former job, the way we'd use it was to hold down the PTT button only long enough to beep the person on the other end. That way, if they were free to talk, they'd answer. Otherwise, if they didn't return the beep, we'd assume they were in a situation where they couldn't talk and leave them alone.
  • No one is arquing they were not great for work related applications. It is the idiots at the mall or bar who were having full conversations that were the problem.
  • I understand. It's just that I've seen exactly that sentiment posted before. PTT had legitimate uses, but the idiots using it for long calls ruined it for everyone else. For whatever reason, they seemed to forget that their PTT handsets could also handle regular phone calls, which is what you should be using if you needed to have a longer conversation.
  • But, that's the point. He's arguing that it is good for normal people. If you seriously think that responding to a text or listening to a voicemail is such a waste of your time, then you have too high of an opinion of your time unless maybe you get like a hundred voicemails a week or something. And if you do, voicemail isn't the problem, it's the volume.
  • If I could have another i930 i880 with 4g LTE ....I would GLADY trade in my Note 5/6/8 - I really miss my push to flip lol ! I am so over these flatscreens
  • I'll tell you what happened..SPRINT! That is what killed PTT. I so hate that company! It's funny, because me and a buddy was just talking about chirping this weekend.
  • I can remember Nextel was for business users, and Boost was the personal/pre-paid side of Nextel I remember ridingh the light railt to work in Los Angeles and having to listen to midless drivel from teens and adults!!! I used one for business, but did not use it on the train.
  • Hell, I remember when there were NO cellphones...only pagers...trying to find a payphone to return the "911" page only to find out your wife wanted you to stop by the store on the way home and pick up some tampons...lol
  • Man. I used it all the time and loved it with Nextel. When Sprint took over it was a wrap.
  • I kind of wish we had a better version these days, the quality of bubble pack radios is goddamn abysmal and the place I work goes through them too quickly because they break all the time.
  • i remember using PTT on road trips when we had 2 or 3 cars driving up to the cottage. It was entertaining talking back and forth between vehicles and very convenient.
  • "Breaker breaker" has nothing to do with walkie talkies. Your graphics person needs to talk to some oldtimers (and/or truckers).
  • The rugged Motorola Nextel flip phone was perfect for a kid. It was indestructible (and a little too convenient for my parents).
  • when i worked for Time Warner Cable, they had us using the Sprint Nextel phones. that damn phone was always chirping.