The history of mobile phones may seem like the record of an industry juggernaut that only applies to the 2010s. However, these now-ubiquitous devices (they can even cause cell phone addiction) had their start in the early 1970s.
Read on to learn about the early days of the cellphone. Though we have recreated the world to require these devices at all times, there was a time not long ago when using a cellphone was a luxury reserved only for the very wealthy.
The First Cellphone
The first cellphone weighed almost two-and-a-half pounds! It had to charge for 10 hours before only 30 minutes of use. This built onto the concept of a mobile radio, conceived in 1917 but dependent on electrical technology and machines that didn’t exist yet.
These advances came with the chemical creation of a metal-oxide-semiconductor as well as the concept of cellular networking. This allowed calls to transmit over several transceiver stations using frequencies to transmit and receive from portable receivers. In short, this networking technology made that two-pound monstrosity possible!
After that, Motorola kept going. A $4,000 cellphone popped up in 1983 called the DynaTAC. This phone and subsequently Motorola’s MicroTAC, the first handheld phone, paved the way for the future of cellphones.
Famously, these early phones were developed after Martin Cooper at Motorola watched the original Star Trek and saw Captain Kirk “flip” open his communicator. For the super nerds out there, consider the episode “Errand of Mercy” where a Klingon captain receives communication on his handheld receiver from his ship … and reads it! That’s right – he just received history’s first text message. Probably.
Cellphone History Shrinks
Nokia’s 6000 series phone in 2000 was the first viable, affordable cellphone for people to own and put in their pocket. People other than Gordan Gecko could now make mobile calls.
Then, Sprint built on the idea with the first camera phone in 2002. It would take a while for phone cameras to approach the quality of dedicated photo-taking devices. However, the concept of doing so still blew minds in 2002.
The race was on to create slimmer, sleeker models with more options and better features. The RAZR took the market by storm in 2004. But the real change came in 2007 when Apple released the iPhone. The important thing here was that Apple made the leap from cellphones as a calling device to cellphones as a multimedia management and all-purpose entertainment tool. Cellphones were one thing. Apple’s technological leaps effectively put our computers in our pockets.
Once they integrated virtual keyboards, email access, and other wi-fi functions into the cellphone design, the rest of the device’s history became foregone. From Blackberry phones to the app store, the iPhone caused cellphones to leap to the modern-day.
History of Mobile Phones: The Takeaway
The history of mobile phones involves a lot of miniaturization. As technology advanced, phones shrank and increased in utility. From Star Trek to Steve Jobs, the cellphone has now become an essential tool, for work and play. It may be less than 40 years old, but most of us couldn’t live without it.