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Stephen Fry on the Phone [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Stephen Fry
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
Price: 9.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Audio, CD, Audiobook 9.25  
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Book Description

8 Dec 2011
This is a BBC Science radio series, 5 x 15 minutes, on the history of the mobile phone. This will be presented by Stephen Fry, who is well known for his love of gadgetry and the perfect presenter for this subject. This will be an entertaining history of the mobile phone that makes full use of the medium to convey the message - the listener will hear iconic ringtones, and be variously diverted and held in a queue. There will be apps, voiced up texts and interviews. Possible topics for inclusion are: the shoebox phone; the Bat Phone; Marty Cooper's vision; mobile lives; carphones; texting; and, the future.

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Stephen Fry on the Phone + Fry's Planet Word [DVD]
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: BBC Audiobooks Ltd (8 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408470799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408470794
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 630,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Stephen Fry is a celebrated actor, novelist, journalist, presenter, intellectual, and wit. He has produced four novels and two volumes of autobiography, and has written for radio shows and TV. His TV credits include "Jeeves and Wooster" and "Blackadder, " and he hosted the BBC TV series "QI." His readings of the Harry Potter books have won him huge acclaim and several awards.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Keith_Joseph HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This isn't the history of the phone, it's is the history of the mobile phone as told by Stephen Fry, describing why mobile phones are the way they are (and not what they could have been). So it starts in 1947 with D.H. Ring at the Bell Labs developing the theory of a cellular mobile telephone service, but the technology to do it didn't exist until the 1970s. Prior to that, the wireless car phone was the preserve of the police and the very rich. `Fry on the phone' is quite technical and most interviews are with the engineers and company executives who developed the modern cellular network and its mobile phones. It doesn't go into scientific details that much, so it's quite easy to understand. It's often a dry retelling of the story, although Stephen's amusing voice over and the occasional interviewee quips ensure that there's an entertaining feel to the content.

It's good ripped to the iPod as it can be listened to in chunks as originally broadcast, although neither iTunes or Windows Media Player recognised the CD (I have updated Gracenote with the details). The CD's 25 tracks are split into five 15 minute parts:

1 - Creating the network
2 - From car phones to executive bricks
3 - The accidental discovery of text
4 - Shrinking the handset
5 - The chips that make smart phones smart.

Although on the CD all 5 episodes are mixed into one continuous 75 minute broadcast. It was first broadcast by Radio 4 in November 2011. Although I'm not obsessed with my mobile phone or feel a need for the latest model, I am very interested in technology and all things shiny. So I quite enjoyed the program, and rate it 4* when on offer for around a fiver.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that Mobiles FRY your brain! 29 Feb 2012
By Mr. Stephen Redman VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As ever Stephen Fry is a magnificent presenter of this summary of the history of the device you might even be reading this review on. This set of 15 minute segments ought to be mandatory for anyone who doesn't remember a world without mobiles. The stories are told in a gripping way and highlight all relevant issues with an historical overview.
For those of us who do remember the world before a phone was something you carried with you, this is still important because it reveals the key breakthroughs that we may have missed as we were busy living.
Fry's inner geek is fully satiated by this voyage into technology and for those who are not so excited by mobile electronics there is no loss, as everything is stated simply and clearly for the novice.
You can't help but enjoy this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Cartimand TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Master wit and raconteur Stephen Fry keeps the whimsicality in check to deliver a highly educational if somewhat straight-faced history of the mobile phone.

Sure it was fascinating to hear about how far back the mobile's development can be traced, where that (in)famous Nokia ringtone came from, some mind-boggling statistics about how ubiquitous this device has become and it was great to hear the classic Tomorrow's World theme once again. I did, however, expect a few more chuckles along the way. Fry possesses a very evocative voice which lends a cosy and borderline soperific air to this CD and, perhaps, a few more gags would have held my interest more effectively. Most of the information contained herein can easily be gleaned through Wikipedia and so, given the prestige of the narrator, I was probably expecting a little more added value in terms of entertainment.

Worth a listen - but one listen only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE RING 11 Feb 2012
By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is nearly a week since this disc was delivered to me, so I suppose I had better hurry and get out my Vine review. The subject is the short but eventful history of the mobile phone as originally presented in a series of five 15-minute BBC radio broadcasts. When I was young BBC radio talks were some last word in genteel tedium - I can't remember whether there was actually a series called Drainage in Rural Communities, but they were that kind of thing. Now here we have Britain's favourite pop-intellectual, the urbane, charming and witty Stephen Fry, taking us through a subject that could have been a geeks' orgy and making entertainment as well as history out of it. He is not always respectable in other contexts, but this time he manages even to be that, and none the worse for it, although I suppose one very amusing snippet from The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket could be classed as borderline.

By his own frank admission Stephen Fry is a gizmos-junkie. He is what they know in the trade as an `early adopter', sc the kind of customer who will pay through the nose for the early models and willingly endure the teething troubles in return for his money. At least he is speaking from experience, and I was fascinated to be taken through some detail of products that I myself viewed with suspicion from a distance until other bolder parties had done the debugging and brought the prices down. As well as the bedrock technologies such as cellular networks and digital transmissions, it was fascinating to hear recalled the massive early instruments, nearly as hefty as voltage transformers, and very amusing to be taken through some of the dead-end applications. Do you remember the taxi-phone, for example? Probably only taxi proprietors do, in nightmares about what they paid for them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
There is a risk that there is too much of Mr Fry on the radio and TV. However this sort of thing is what he does best and reminds the listener of why he has become such a National... Read more
Published on 31 May 2012 by Wilz
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun to listen to
As a family we like Stephen Fry and so opted for this CD. We listened to it while having meals as an alternative to TV dinners. It was very entertaining and informative. Read more
Published on 20 April 2012 by A. Woods
3.0 out of 5 stars A few interesting moments but mostly forgettable
This short series is not Steve Fry at his best. What we get are 4 episodes of short but fairly interesting interviews with some of the men (sorry ladies, apparently this sort of... Read more
Published on 18 April 2012 by i wrote this
3.0 out of 5 stars Bricks, Bananas and Rabbits
Hello? Hello? Can you hear me now? I'm on Amazon.

I missed "Stephen Fry on the Phone" when it was broadcast in five daily instalments on BBC Radio 4 last November. Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by R. C. McGinlay
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was really looking forward to listening to this, being a fan of Stephen Fry, and a gadget geek.
I don't think I learned much from this, and there seemed to be huge sections... Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, just excellent
I remember catching moments of this when it was on Radio 4.

It is like chatting with a gadget mad friend, and - I have to admit I am gadget mad myself. Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by Doug
3.0 out of 5 stars on the phone
I WAS A BIT DISAPPOINTED WITH THIS REALLY...AS IT WAS STEPHEN FRY I EXPECTED IT TO BE A HUMOUROUS LOOK AT PHONE CONVERSATIONS BUT ALTHOUGH THERE IS A BIT OF HUMOUR I FOUND IT A BIT... Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by E. Dale
4.0 out of 5 stars Mobile madness
1 hours and 15 minutes of Britons foremost Egg head Steven Fry eloquently telling the story of the Mobile Phone (Or 'cell phone' for our US friends or 'Handy' as our German friends... Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2012 by Fletch-a-sketch
4.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Fry on the Phone
In 75 minutes Fry takes us through the history of the phone. It's inevitable that most of the time taken up in these five 15-minute broadcasts cover the mobile, or cell, phone. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2012 by Steve
4.0 out of 5 stars informative and fun overview of the mobile phone and it's history
I'm not the biggest fan of Stephen Fry, but I really did enjoy this audiobook.

He is a self confessed gadget freak - and he can sometimes be pompous about it (early... Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2012 by Mrenshaw
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