A pager (also known as a beeper) is a wireless telecommunications device that receives and displays numeric or/and receives and announces voice messages. One-way pagers can only receive messages, while response pagers and two-way pagers can also acknowledge, reply to, and originate messages using an internal transmitter.Pagers operate as part of a paging system which includes one or more fixed transmitters (or in the case of response pagers and two-way pagers, one or more base stations), as well as a number of pagers carried by mobile users. These systems can range from a restaurant system with a single low-power transmitter, to a nationwide system with thousands of high-power base stations.
In 1921, the first pager-like system was in use by the Detroit Police Department. However, it was not until 1949 that the very first telephone pager was patented. The inventor's name was Al Gross and his pagers were first used in New York City's Jewish Hospital. Al Gross' pager was not a consumer device available to everyone. The FCC did not approve the pager for public use until 1958.
The name pager was first used in 1959 when Motorola made a personal radio communications product they called a pager. The Motorola pager was a small receiver that delivered a radio message individually to those carrying the device. The first successful consumer pager was Motorola's Pageboy I first introduced in 1974. It had no display and could not store messages, however, it was portable and notified the wearer that a message had been sent.
By 1980, there were 3.2 million pager users worldwide. At that time pagers had a limited range and were used mostly in on-site situations for example when medical workers communicate with each other within a hospital.
By 1990, wide-area paging had been invented and over 22 million pagers were in use. By 1994, there were over 61 million pagers in use and pagers became popular for personal use.
However, with today's cell phones pagers are becoming an endangered species. Pagers sales are down and few companies still make pagers. Older one-way pagers are being replaced by more sophisticated messaging tools, such as two-way pagers.