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Mobile Cell Phone History - Communication Technology

Dec 17, 2007
Children today consider wireless phones as necessary and usual in daily life. They don't know a time without them being prevalent. But that was not the case in 1973 when Martin Cooper made his first cellular phone call from a New York City street and New Yorkers stared gaping at him. But the history of cell phone starts further back in time.

The history of cell phones or wireless communications must start with Samuel Morse. He introduced the concept of wireless by conduction when he transmitted a telegraph signal through water. His telegraph was the first device to transmit messages by electricity.

Then in 1843 a man by the name of Michael Faraday studied to see if space could conduct electricity. In 1865 a dentist, Dr. Mahlon Loomis was the first person to communicate through wireless via the atmosphere. He came up with the idea of transmitting and receiving messages using the atmosphere as a conductor and sending up kites covered with copper screens that were linked to the ground with copper wires. Loomis was awarded a $50,000 research grant by congress.

But let us move forward to the twentieth century and the invention of the cell or wireless phone as we know it today. This brings us to a man often referred to as the father of the cell phone, Martin Cooper. He was employed by Motorola and worked on developing the first hand held radios made for the Chicago police department in 1967. He then went on to lead Motorola's cellular research.

AT&T's, Bell Laboratories introduced the idea of cellular communication in 1947. Through the 60' and 70's Motorola and Bell Laboratories were in a race to incorporate the technology into portable devices.

On April 3, 1973 Martin Cooper won the race when he placed the first cell phone call to his rival at AT&T. Motorola introduced the 16-ounce "DynaTAC" phone into commercial service in 1983, at a cost to the consumer of $3,500. It weighed 2.5 lbs. took 10 hours to charge with 35 minutes of talk time. Features were limited to dial, listen and talk. This was commonly referred to as the Brick.

In 1977 cell phones went public. Chicago was the first city to trial cell phones with 2000 customers.

In 1983 Motorola, with the help of Martin Cooper, introduced the 16-ounce "DynaTAC" the first truly portable cellular phone. This phone took 15 years and a cost of over 100 million dollars to come to market. The cost to the consumer was $3500. It weighed 2.5 lbs., took 10 hours to charge and allowed 35 minutes of talk time. Features were limited to dial, listen and talk.

From 1983 to the late 1980"s 1st generation cellular or car phones as they were often called became very popular. Most were not hand held but rather installed in cars or bag phones.

In 1988 the CTIA (Cellular Technology Industry Association) was founded.

In the early 1990's second generation or 2G phones came onto the market. They were able to work on GSM, TDMA, and CDMA technology. 2G digital networks were online and replacing the analog network frequencies making them virtually obsolete. The phones became much smaller and portable and usage soared.

Currently third generation or 3G phones are the technology available today. 3G phones include innovations that allow them to receive more than just phone calls. For example Internet access and email capability and streaming video.

In December 2005 the wireless industry in the US surpassed the 200 million subscriber mark. In 2006 that number grew to 233 million subscribers with 12.8% of households being totally wireless. There are 195,613 cell sites making this possible.
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