For many of us, our smartphone is the first thing we look at in the morning, and the last thing we check at night. We never leave home without it. No longer just a telephone, it is a diary, encyclopedia, camera, family album and mobile office. Telephones have come a long way in 150 years!

The telephone arrived in Melbourne in the late 1870s. At first, it was limited to business premises, but wealthy individuals soon became subscribers. By the 1960s most homes had telephones, usually installed in the hall or kitchen. Long distance calls were expensive at this time and there was no time for long chats, but the telephone allowed far-flung family members to stay in touch, especially on special occasions or in moments of crisis.

Mobile phones appeared in Australia in the late-1980s. Early models cost the equivalent of a small car, but they soon became a must-have business tool and fashion accessory. Today almost nine out of every ten Australians own a mobile phone and mobile users get younger every day. Research suggests that about 40 per cent of children under 12 own their own phones.

Mobile phones are now key to how we work, communicate with loved ones, entertain ourselves, stay safe, and manage our family lives. Their cameras record (and store) our family memories. For some, especially the young, life without a phone is unimaginable.