Imagine that you are sitting at home doing work on your computer with your phone right next to you. All of a sudden, your phone lights up and rings loudly.  The ringing breaks your concentration on the task you were doing. At first, you are excited because you think that it is a friend calling to chat. Or maybe you think that it is an important call from work. It could even be a call from a family member to check on you. However, prepare to be disappointed because it is actually none of those things! You look down at your phone and the Caller ID either says ‘spam risk’ or it’s a random number that you do not know.

We have all had this happen to us. We immediately felt that feeling of utter disappointment and great annoyance when we realize we are receiving a robocall or spam call.  I cannot begin to tell you how many spam calls and calls from unknown numbers that I have received in the past few months.  There was one week where I literally received about two calls a day from unknown numbers.  Very irritating, I know! The sad thing is they have even upped their game by using local numbers to try to trick me into thinking that I possibly know the caller.

Believe it or not, the first robocalls began in the 1850s and were received on the telegraph. So, it is completely safe to say that this problem I am currently having is definitely nothing new and that others are experiencing it too. In 2019, it was estimated that there were over 50 billion robocalls. From my personal experience, they do not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  My number even seems to be one of their favorites to call.  I am sure that others feel the same.

Caller ID is the friend that is has always got my back against fighting unwanted calls.

While I am sure there a bunch of ways that we can attempt to stop these calls listed on the Internet, there is one strategy that is the most reliable and I must personally thank the person that was instrumental in creating this first line of defense for spotting unknown and spam callers. Caller ID is the friend that is has always got my back against fighting unwanted calls, and it is all because of Dr Shirley Ann Jackson. Yes, I know I just called the facility that displays and identifies phone numbers from incoming calls my friend and I do not regret it.

Dr Shirley Ann Jackson works in theoretical physics at Bell Laboratories which is credited for being the technology behind Caller ID.  During her childhood, she had a natural talent for science and technology. Dr Jackson was the first African American woman to earn her decorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and American physicist.

Dr Shirley Ann Jackson truly enhanced the way we communicate.  I could not even imagine having to pick up the phone all the time just to try and figure out if the incoming call is someone I know or if it is important. Not only can I see who is calling because of her work to fight unwanted callers, but I can see incoming calls when I am already on the phone with someone.  Before her work, if you were on the phone with someone when some else called your phone, the incoming call would have been blocked.  Pretty handy if you ask me! This advancement is called ‘Call Waiting’. Additionally, her work and research enabled others to invent fiber optic cables, portable fax, and the touch-tone telephone. Pretty cool, if you ask me!

Today, when my “Hotline Blinks” and I don’t know the Caller ID, I decline the call.  My thankfulness may seem trivial to some, however, it should serve as a reminder to not take everyday technologies for granted because I am pretty sure I would be answering robocalls all day. Thank you, Dr Shirley Ann Jackson!

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  • Tatayana Allen

    Tatayana Allen is a recent college graduate of the University of Virginia. During her time at the university she was a Media Studies major and was in the Cavalier Marching Band. Tatayana loves anything related to fashion, music, and photography.