Mobile Technology Milestone: First Cellular Call Made 40 Years Ago


The cell phone turned 40 just a few days ago.  Martin Cooper, former VP at Motorola, likely didn’t appreciate the full significance of making the world’s first cell phone call in 1973, but 40 years later, mobile technology is an unstoppable force, poised to transform just about everything that makes up modern living. The famous call made by Cooper to a colleague at rival telecom Bell Labs (who was actually heading the AT&T program) is the stuff of legend and forged the path to the first cellular phone, the 2.2-pound DynaTAC, made commercially available a decade later for a whopping cost of about $4,000.

Media outlets around the world are celebrating the achievement, especially in light of the recent smartphone wars and the excitement brewing about Google Glass, which may be the beginning of the end for the smartphone. The advances of mobile technology are ushering in the Internet of Things that will likely see many objects come online, everything from wristwatches to refrigerators. As all of these devices depend on wireless connections, we can continue to thank the efforts of Cooper and colleagues to make a vision reality.

In an interview with CBS, Cooper noted that the strides that have been made are just first steps toward what the technology could evolve into. He said, “Technology has to be invisible. Transparent. Just simple. A modern cell phone in general has an instruction book that’s bigger and heavier than the cell phone. That’s not right.”

For those interested in more about the tech, Mashable has put together a Cell-ebration! timeline and cnet has a “The Wow of Mobility” infographic. In case you need a reminder of what “brick” phones were once like, you only need to watch this YouTube compilation from the old classic “Saved By The Bell”:

 [images: jbtaylor/Flickr, YouTube]

David J. Hill
David J. Hill
David started writing for Singularity Hub in 2011 and served as editor-in-chief of the site from 2014 to 2017 and SU vice president of faculty, content, and curriculum from 2017 to 2019. His interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but he'll always be a chemist at heart.
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