It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller, on April 3rd 1973 Martin Cooper, senior engineer at Motorola made a call from the prototype DynaTAC in New York. The call was made to a rival colleague Joel Engel head of research at Bell Labs to announce “he was speaking from a ‘real’ cellular telephone”.
The Motorola DynaTAC – dubbed the “brick” due to its size and weight was 9 inches tall, comprised 30 circuit boards, had a talk-time of 35 minutes, and took 10 hours to recharge. In 1983 it’s sale cost was $3,995 dollars. Despite this the waiting list for the DynaTAC 8000X were in the thousands. It ignited a demand for personal wireless communication, everyone wanted to be the first to get their hands on these awesomely unwieldy portable analogue brain-fryers.
In 40 years the mobile phone has evolved from an expensive business tool. Consumerization has driven the technology forwards, microprocessors, digital telecoms, the internet, globalisation and many more have all converged to deliver the devices we have today. That evolution isn’t stoping as we reach the verge of wearable computing in the form of smart watches, glasses and clothing.
Martin Cooper, now aged 85, is renowned as the “father” of the mobile phone.
In a previous interview with the BBC he admitted he thought the initial cost of the devices (in 1983 the first models cost $3,500, or £2,317) might be prohibitive to the mobile phone becoming a mass-market product, but he did recognise that the hefty handsets would probably shrink.
“We did envision that some day the phone would be so small that you could hang it on your ear or even have it embedded under your skin,” he said.
Mr Cooper said his vision for a mobile phone was first conceived in the late 1960s when the car telephone was invented by AT&T.
He wanted to create “something that would represent an individual so you could assign a number not to a place, not to a desk, not to a home but to a person,” he said.
“It pleases me no end to have had some small impact on people’s lives because these phones do make people’s lives better. They promote productivity, they make people more comfortable, they make them feel safe and all of those things,” Mr Cooper added.
He was also pleased to have been one step ahead of the competition.
“When you are a competitive entity like we were, it’s one of the great satisfactions in life,” he said.
The final question is who has bought the movie rights to this story?