Living: Chorus of Beepers

Beep. Beep. A small black box in the pocket of an Omaha business executive emits an electronic hiccup; its owner leaves a conference table to phone his stockbroker. Beep. A volunteer fireman in Rockville Center, N.Y., jumps out of bed and into his uniform. Bweet. A Houston truck driver has a new delivery; and across town—bip-bip—an airline stewardess leaves her restaurant table to report for duty. Bweet. A vinyl-booted siren strutting her stuff on Times Square has a call-in customer.

A portable paging device about the size of a cigarette pack, the beeper is a mini-radio receiver that puts the person carrying...

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