Mobile phones caused a tremendous shift in the communications industry and, more significantly, fundamentally changed the way humans talk to each other and interact.
Years ago, who would’ve imagined that exchanging information or communicating overseas was soon to become possible and part of normality.
That’s how far we’ve become.
While there are many people behind this phenomenal revolution, the person who would ultimately go on to make the first historic call on a mobile phone was Martin Cooper.
Little did he know, he had then taken a huge step towards unlocking ultimatum potential.
Cooper opened up infinite doors with unlimited opportunities in the soon future.
Phone calls were just the start (and the tip of the iceberg, but we’ll get to that later).
The first call itself was made on the sidewalks of New York on April 3, 1973.
Who is Martin Cooper?
Having gained a master’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1950 Chicago-born electrical engineer, Cooper served as a submarine officer during the Korean War, before beginning work with Motorola in 1957.
He soon began to make his mark on the world of communications on the move, helping the firm develop a cellular-like portable handheld radio system for the Chicago police department in 1967.
Meet the "Father of the Cell Phone"
The concept of cellular technology had already been created by Motorola's rival, AT&T, whose Bell Labs introduced a system allowing calls to be moved from one cell to another while remaining on the same channel.
However, AT&T was focusing this technology on the car phone, a device that was now becoming commonplace in vehicles across American cities.
Cooper recognized that this was too narrow a vision for on-the-go communications and that the future lay in a fully portable device that offered the freedom of any time, anywhere telephony.
Cooper always had a different vision for mobile phones. Cooper’s invention and work were merely based on the following idea and/or belief that:
"People want to talk to other people - not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire. It is that freedom we sought to vividly demonstrate in 1973,".
The Day History Was Made
It was then in November 1972 that Martin’s team began designing a prototype, and in just five months, they had what appeared to be a near-working prototype.
Motorola called for a press conference at the Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York on the afternoon of April 3, 1973, to unveil the project.
Can you guess what happened next?
Before the event, Cooper decided to dazzle one particularly skeptical journalist by showing the portable handset in action on the streets of Manhattan.
Cooper called the number of his chief competitor Dr. Joel S. Engel, the head of Bell Labs then, in front of the reporter.
Recounting in a 2011 interview the history-making chat, Martin told the BBC:
"I said Joel, this is Marty. I'm calling you from a cell phone, a real, handheld, portable cell phone.' There was a silence at the other end. I suspect he was grinding his teeth"
Despite the significance of the call, Martin admitted he never considered how historic this moment was.
In an interview Martin also stated:
"You never know when you do something like that, that it was the momentous occasion which it turned out to be. The issue at the time wasn't about creating a revolution, although that was what happened. It was about stopping At&T."
The DynaTAC (the first commercially available handheld cellular phone) made the front cover of the next edition of Popular Science at the time and went on to kick-start a communications revolution. One with no end.
How much has the mobile phone changed throughout the years?
More than 50 years later, a single historic phone call earned Martin significant bragging rights.
Why? We now live in a world where there are more mobile handsets than there are people.
At 92, Cooper remains involved in the wireless industry and serves as a member of the Federal Communications Commission's Technical Advisory Council.
Smartphones now dominate the world of technology and mark a huge progression from the DynaTAC, but for Martin, they’re not smart enough. It's almost laughable...
Martin told the BBC in 2010:
"The cell phone in the long-range is going to be embedded under your skin behind your ear along with a very powerful computer who is in effect your slave".
Martin also added:
"The future of cellular telephony is to make people's lives better"
Are mobile phones really making people's lives better?
Did anyone read the words RADIATION & NEGATIVE HEALTH EFFECT in the statements made by Martin Cooper, or was it just us at Einstein Brain?