Who invented the first mobile phone?

02 Jan 2013

written by Rob

first mobile phone

Mobile phone technology has been around much longer than you might imagine, but it’s only in the last couple of decades that it has become a commercially viable reality for mainstream consumers. If you’re wondering who invented the mobile phone, the answer is a little more complicated than it may at first seem.

The earliest medium for mobile communication was provided by radio. Back in the 1930s, it was made possible to call people who were at sea on cruise liners via a landline. This was so expensive that in today’s money you’d be paying the equivalent of about 60 pounds a minute!

Mobile telecoms would remain a costly affair for many years and portability proved to be a problem for a considerable period of time because you couldn’t actually hold any of these early devices in your hand.

So, who invented the mobile phone? US manufacturer Motorola beat all of its rivals to the punch when engineer Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call from a completely portable device on April 3rd 1973.

At the time he was calling from a prototype device, which weighed over a kilogram and could only offer 30 minutes of talk time. After its battery was flat you’d have to wait another 10 hours for it to recharge. Even the enormous 5 inch smartphones for 2013 weigh in comfortably under Cooper’s revolutionary invention.

martin cooper inventor mobile phone

Cooper actually placed that very first mobile phone call to a contemporary working at Bell Labs, which at the time was competing with Motorola to build the first feasible mobile phone. Cooper didn’t just chat with another expert, but also placed calls to reporters and astounded onlookers as he wandered along the streets of New York, using a device that no one had ever seen before.

By the time Motorola turn the prototype into a commercially available product it was charging thousands of pounds and offering only limited coverage.

Technology has now advanced to the point where modern smartphones weigh just a tenth of what this original handset did, while jamming in more functionality than those early pioneers could possibly imagine. Indeed, the high-end devices of today are more powerful than the desktop PCs in use a decade ago, with built-in GPS, camera and web connectivity allowing users to do more than ever before.

In fact, the technology is slowly getting to the point where the sight of someone actually using his mobile phone to talk to someone is novel, what with all the other ways to get in touch that are on offer.

Now 40 years since the birth of the first mobile phone, Motorola continue to offer handsets, their latest being the Motorola RAZR i.

So there you have it, the world’s first mobile phone invented 40 years ago by Dr. Martin Cooper. With so much evolution since it’s invention, we wonder what smartphones will be capable of in another 10 years time.

Future innovation in mobile technology

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