Key Milestones In Mobile Phone History

AlexandraThe first mobile phone - Martin Cooper

On new years day in 1985, 30 years ago, the first commercial UK mobile phone call was made. Michael Harisson, son of Vodafone’s first chairman, called his father to test the newly launched Vodafone network. While we cannot imagine our lives without our smartphones anymore, the world of mobile phones looked very different 30 years ago.

 The First Truly Portable Mobile Phone

Martin Cooper, a Motorola employee, is widely considered to be a key player in the history of mobile phones, inventing the first mobile phone for practical use. Handsets that could be used in a vehicle had been developed prior to Martin Cooper’s phone, but he was the first to develop the first usable and truly portable mobile phone. Cooper made mobile phone history in April 1973 when he made the first ever call on a portable mobile phone, to Motorola’s rival, Bell Labs. This phone was 10 inches long and weighed about 2.5 pounds. It offered 30 minutes of talk time on a single charge and took 10 hours to recharge.

Motorola’s Chief of Portable Communications, successfully pushed his team to develop wireless portable phones that would become smaller and lighter. However, the phone would only become available for the public more than 10 years later, in 1984 when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved Motorola’s DynaTAC phone for public use. The handheld device with a price tag of $3,995 weighted 1.7 pounds and the battery could last for 8 hours. The iconic “off hook” button would start a phone call, while pressing the “on hook” button would end the conversation. In the years after, more and more devices were developed with more abilities, while prices only went down.


The World’s First Smartphone

In 1993, Bellsouth and IBM launched the Simon personal communicator, the world’s first cell phone with smartphone capabilities. The device, with price tag of $899, included features such as a pager, email, a stylus for writing on the screen, a complete keypad and a calendar that could be updated automatically from a computer. However, only 20,000 of these devices were ever made.


Nokia Launches The First Phone With A Built-In Camera

In 2002, the first phones with built-in cameras became publicly available. Nokia developed the Nokia 7650, one of the world’s most loved cell phones. The phone came with a large 176×208 colour display and built-in camera. The phone didn’t break sales records like its other models such as the Nokia 3210, but it inspired innovation and set the ball rolling for camera phones.


The iPhone Revolutionizes The Smartphone Industry

Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone in 2007, a revolutionary touchscreen smartphone. Apple described the phone as combining 3 products into 1 handheld device: a mobile phone, an iPod and a wireless communication device. It was not the first smartphone, but it was the first to get the user interface right, setting an example for how we know the smartphone today.