A video first posted on YouTube a year ago has found some new fame after claims that the black-and-white footage from 1938 reveals the first prototype of a cellphone. A YouTube user further fanned the flames after claiming that the woman in the video is his great grandmother.
The video in question shows a woman leaving a factory and, apparently, using a device that is reminiscent of a cellphone. The woman is seen laughing and smiling as she talks into a handheld device. Daily Mail picked up the story about this odd occurrence, and if such a device were around, 35 years before the technology was commercially available, it would be a remarkable technological achievement.
A YouTube user, Planetcheck, is claiming that the woman in the footage is his great grandmother Gertrude Jones, who was 17 at the time. The user claims that it’s an actual cellphone prototype and his great grandmother had access to such a device because she worked at a communications factory owned by Dupont in Leominster, Mass.
The original video has since been removed from YouTube, but the Daily Mail claims it was able to document the comments made by Planetcheck. The user claimed that Jones and several other women were asked to test out the wireless devices for a week. Planetcheck claims that he talked to his great grandmother who remembered using such a device and that she was talking to a nearby scientist.
Yahoo’s blog, the Sideshow, also recorded Planetcheck’s comments before the video was taken down. Other users questioned the validity of Planetcheck’s statement including the belief that the small size of the device would have been impossible, considering the size of early cellphones. Planetcheck said, “Maybe they decided it was too far advanced for people and they abandoned the idea.” Planetcheck cited the Romans inventing concrete only to abandon the advancement, and the technology being rediscovered centuries later.
Planetcheck also described the device in detail, saying it was about five-inches long, brown and made of Bakelite, an early form of plastic. The user also claims that the phone is still around and housed in a glass box.
Huffington Post reported on the incident with plenty of skepticism. In addition to detailing Planetcheck’s comments, HuffPo talked to Snopes.com founder David Mikkelson to discuss how old films are perfect for conspiracy theories. Milkkelson says, “Film clips aren't of sufficient resolution to see what the people are carrying. It could be anything from a handkerchief to a hearing aid, or who knows what.”
The “time traveler using a cell phone” is a recent conspiracy theory fad. An outtake from a Charlie Chaplin film, from 1928, went viral when some people claimed that a woman could be seen talking on what appeared to be a cellphone. After the video went viral, many experts analyzed the footage and, based on what technology existed at the time, came to the conclusion that the woman was using a hearing aid.
Video of the 1938 "time traveler" using a cell phone can be viewed below.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.