Today is a special day in the mobile industry as it marks the 40th anniversary of the first ever cell phone call made. 40 years ago, in April 3, 1973, Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call to his rival Joel Engel from Bell Systems to inform him that the race to perfect cellular technology was over. While the exact words weren’t exactly recorded what was reportedly said was “I’m ringing you just to see if my call sounds good at your end.” The call lasted for about 20 minutes.
Cooper recalled that “The first cell phone model weighed over one kilo and you could only talk for 20 minutes before the battery ran out. Which is just as well because you would not be able to hold it up for much longer.”
The first cellular phone used was the DynaTac 8000X, which is short for Dynamic Total Area Coverage. This device was first sold in 1984 and cost $4,000 or around $10,000 in today’s money. Up to this day you can still buy this model over at eBay.
Some interesting facts about the DynaTac are
- That first portable phone was called a DynaTac. The original model had 35 minutes of battery life and weighed one kilogram.
- Several prototypes of the DynaTac were created just 90 days after Cooper had first suggested the idea. He held a competition among Motorola engineers from various departments to design it and ended up choosing “the least glamorous”.
- The DynaTac’s weight was reduced to 794g before it came to market.
- DynaTac became the phone of choice for fictional psychopaths, including Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman and Saved by the Bell’s Zac Morris.
Today, we have seen cellular technology rapidly evolve over the past 40 years. It is estimated that the industry brings in a total of US$1.2 trillion in revenue from services, apps, and hardware devices.
Mr. Cooper is still buying Motorola products today. Just last year he was spotted using a Motorola Droid RAZR. He is also still involved with the mobile industry running his own mobile incubator project Dyna LLC.