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Who Made The Very First Cell Phone Call?

Martin Cooper with first cell phone (photo by Henry Michel@Flickr)

It’s something most people use everyday. Some people use it continuously all day and without it they feel naked. It’s their cell phone. They’ve evolved into something more than just a phone. They’re a personal information center, but it all began with a phone and today is the day 40 years ago that the first cell phone call was made.

The man who made that first call was Martin Cooper, the head of Motorola’s communications division. While walking down the streets of Manhattan he placed a call to Bell Systems Labs, their chief competitor in the race to build a personal, wireless telephone.

Basically he called to gloat, but it was the first time anyone had ever been able to make a call from a phone that wasn’t connected by a wire. And he deserved that satisfaction because it was his idea. He envisioned what he called a “personal telephone”, something that wouldn’t represent a place, a desk or a home, but a person and that phone would go wherever they went.

Some people had car phones – but they were really mobile radios and you needed an operator to place the call. And you needed heavy equipment you carried around in the trunk.

That first cell phone wasn’t exactly something you could carry in your pocket. It was about the size of a brick and weighed two and a half pounds. Your calls had to be short because you couldn’t hold that heavy phone up to your ear very long.

You see people using their phones everywhere these days, but it was on this day in 1973 in New York City when people were shocked to see somebody talking on a wireless phone for the first time.


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