A Look Back At The Very First Cell Phone Call

retro cell phone photo

Photo by blackplastic

(PCM) Over the last decade cell phones have become a huge part of our everyday lives, in fact, many of us feel completely naked if we happen to forget our phones at home or in the car and in turn freak out about what we may be missing all day long! (Trust us, it’s really not that important! Facebook can wait!)

Even so, they have become a part of our daily lives and most of us have a hard time recalling the days before their existence was brought into popular culture and we found ourselves glued to our electronic hand-cuffs each and every day.

Back in the day there was huge research rivalry between the Motorola company and the Bell company over creating the first successful cell phone. Motorola ended up winning out over Bell and just to add insult to injury, the very first cell phone call made in the 1973 was from Martin Cooper of the Motorola company to his biggest and most direct research rival Joel Engel of Bell Labs.  Something tells us he probably hung up on him, as we are sure he didn’t want to listen to the gloating! The prototype handheld phone used by Dr. Cooper weighed 1.1 kilograms (2.4 lb) and measured 23 by 13 by 4.5 centimetres (9.1 by 5.1 by 1.8 in). The prototype offered a talk time of just 30 minutes and took 10 hours to re-charge.

Mobile telephones for automobiles became available from some telephone companies in the 1940s. Early devices were bulky, consumed high power, and the network supported only a few simultaneous conversations.  Engineers from Bell Labs began work on a system to allow mobile users to place and receive telephone calls from automobiles, leading to the inauguration of mobile service on 17 June 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after, AT&T offered Mobile Telephone Service. A wide range of mostly incompatible mobile telephone services offered limited coverage area and only a few available channels in urban areas. The introduction of cellular technology, which allowed re-use of frequencies many times in small adjacent areas covered by relatively low powered transmitters, made widespread adoption of mobile telephones economically feasible.

While Bell Labs led the initial research it still ended up that Motorola perfected the technology to allow the first call using cellular technology to be completed and also created the first handheld mobile phone. This sparked the birth of the modern smart phones that we use today!


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