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A short history of the mobile phone

I have a cell phone, you have a cell phone, and we all have them these days. With one cell phone number, you can call around the world. They are easy to take for granted since we have them with us all the time, and we spend copious amounts of time learning how to operate them, especially the Smartphones.

You might be very familiar with how they work, but do you know the history of them?

Ever since Tesla, (yes it was Tesla and not Marconi) invented wireless transmission of energy, people have been figuring out a way to make it practical. Cell phones actually started out as mobile phones. The first call from an automobile was made in Saint Louis, Missouri, on June 17, 1946. They still had a long way to go. This thing weighed in at 80 lbs. It costs $30 a month and 30 to 40 cents per minute. That would be equivalent to about $4.50 per call today.

The first commercial success was achieved with a system called Mobile System B, launched in Sweden in 1962. It was a push-button phone, which used transistors instead of vacuum tubes, making it much lighter and with better call reception. The problem was the phone was still married to the car. On April 3, 1973, Martian Cooper, a researcher for Motorola, made the first call from a hand-held wireless phone to one of his rivals at Bell Labs.

Japan launched the first commercially automated cellular network called NTT, in the metropolitan area of Tokyo, in 1979. A short 5 years later, the network covered the whole of Japan and became the first 1G network. The first 2G modern network was not launched in the U.S. but in Finland with a company called Radiolinja in 1991. The next generation of commercial networks, the 3G, was launched in Japan. Yes, Virginia, the U.S. missed out again.

Of course, we now have 4G networks in the U.S. and around the world, with more to come. Companies such as Sprint, Verizon, and Apple all have 4th Generation networks. At the rate they are going, and the rate at which consumers are buying these phones, more will surely be on the way. It is the leading edge of communication technology. SmartPhones are all over the place with some very technically advanced operating systems enabling those owners to do a multitude of very interesting things.

Cell phones did not start out as cell phones, but instead were called mobile phones and were available only in cars. Later wireless hand-helds broke open the mobile phone interest. Dial up that cell phone number and commercial users as individual users can communicate worldwide.

Last Update: 7/29/2011
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