Pagers are one of the simplest telecommunication devices in use today. Used primarily for short messages, the pager is often utilized by a number of professionals in various disciplines. Prior to the widespread use of cell phones, personal pagers tended to be the main technology used to make quick one way and two way communications when a phone call to a land line was not possible. Even with the popularity of cell phones today, many businesses still consider the pager to be a viable form of communication.
The concept of paging was first introduced in the 1950’s. At the time, the main function for pagers was to reach healthcare personnel in the event of an emergency. The basic premise for the portable pagers was built on the use of internal paging systems that were common in hospitals of the day. Use of the portable device made it possible to reach a doctor when he or she was outside the facility and could not be contacted with the use of a telephone.
From this simple beginning, the pager continued to advance. While the first pagers had a rather limited range, advances in telephony and related technologies made it possible for the pager to receive a signal from fifty to a hundred miles away. As the device became more user friendly, use of the pager began to spread to professions other than healthcare. By the 1980’s, everyone from attorneys to security guards were carrying pagers.
While the original technology of the pager allowed for only one way paging, later developments made it possible for individuals to respond with a short message. The two way pager proved to be helpful in several ways, since it allowed the receiver to acknowledge the sender immediately. The receiver could also ask a short clarifying question and get a response, or refer the sender to another source if necessary. Two way pagers continue to be very popular today for many persons who are on call after normal business hours.
Pagers vary in their levels of capability. Some are set to only send and receive numeric pages. This, the sender may page a receiver with a phone number to call. Other types of pagers allow alphanumeric communications. This would allow the sender to transmit a phone number to a receiver, who could then acknowledge the transmission using a word or two. In some cases, the alphanumeric pager of today has some ability to receive a text message as well as a quick page.