40th Anniversary Of First Mobile Phone Call – today, 03 April, marks the 40th anniversary of the first ever mobile phone call.
On 03 April 1973 Martin Cooper, a senior engineer working at Motorola, stood outside the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan and dialled the number of Joel Engel, the Head of research at Bell Laboratories. The phone used to make this historic call was a prototype version of the Motorola Dyna-Tac.
In case you are wondering what Martin Cooper said in that first ever mobile phone call back in 1973 he is what he said as reported by him to the BBC in 2003: “Joel, I’m calling you from a ‘real’ cellular telephone. A portable handheld telephone.”
The phone used by Cooper would not be viewed as being that “mobile” these days as it weighed around 2.5lbs and its dimensions were 9 x 5 x 1.75 inches. It offered just 30m of talktime and 8hrs of standby after a battery charge of 10hrs so for many people would not offer enough firepower to even get them to work.
Martin Cooper worked on the first mobile phone with John Mitchell who was the chief engineer of mobile projects before eventually becoming the Chief Engineer and finally President of Motorola from 1980 to 1995. The pair first started working on mobile communications together when Cooper was recruited by Motorola from a much smaller telecomms company in Chicago.
The photo you can see here shows John MItchell holding the mobile used to make that first phone call in the street in Manhattan.
Although the first mobile phone call was made in 1973 it was not until ten years later in 1983 that the first commercial mobile phones were made available to the public. As seen from the figures above these early models were many times bigger and heavier than today’s mobiles as well as offering far less battery power. Add to this the fact that the first mobiles would set you back $3995 and you can see why some people believed that this new technology would not take off. We guess if you were rich enough to spend almost $4k on a phone the fact that you then had to spend a further $100 each month on your contract would not be likely to put you off.
One thing forgotten by many people is the fact that although you could make a mobile call by 1983 it was not until December 1992 that the SMS text messaging system was introduced. These days this is a hugely popular way of people keeping in contact with figures from Forrester Research last year estimating that around 6 billion text messages are sent every day in the US alone. The worldwide text message total is put at around 8.6 trillion messages a year. In case you were wondering that is 8,600,000,000,
From that one lonely mobile phone in 1973 there are now estimated to be about 6 billion mobile phones in the world amongst a world population of about 7 billion people.