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On April 3, 1973, Motorola engineer Marty Cooper made the first mobile phone call on a portable cell phone, with rival firm Bell Laboratories focusing on car phones. The commercial version of Cooper’s cellphone was released 11 years later and was expensive at the time, however a director at the Mobile Phone Museum now claims it was technologically limited. Cooper revealed his hopes for AI selecting appropriate apps for users’ phones and phones monitoring their health for the future.
Today (April 3) is the anniversary of the invention of the mobile phone: the first call was made in New York 50 years ago
On April 3, 1973, Marty Cooper stood on Sixth Avenue in New York holding a telephone directory. Then he punched one of the numbers into a large cream-colored device and held it to his ear. Passers-by stared at him in surprise, they did not know that it was the inventor of the mobile phone, and it was at that moment that he made the first call in history on this device, reports the BBC.
Cooper, an engineer at Motorola, then called a colleague at rival Bell Laboratories. And he triumphantly announced that he was calling from a “personal, portable, portable cell phone.”
He remembers that there was silence on the other end of the line.
“I think he gritted his teeth,” the 94-year-old says with a laugh.
According to him, Bell Laboratories focused on the development of a car phone.
“Can you believe it? We have been locked in our homes and offices with this copper wire for over 100 years. And now they were going to lock us in our cars!” the engineer is outraged.
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Cooper and Motorola believed that the future of fully portable phones, and they were right.
How the world’s first mobile phone worked
The basis of the work of that first phone and modern models is the same. The phone converts your voice into an electrical signal that modulates a radio wave. The radio wave goes up. The tower transmits this signal to the person you call, and the phone turns it into a voice again. Of course, there were far fewer towers 50 years ago.
Modern mobile phones, however, are unrecognizable compared to that first Motorola model.
The commercial version of Marty Cooper’s prototype, the Motorola Dynatac 8000X, was released 11 years after that first call, in 1984. According to Ben Wood, director of the Mobile Phone Museum, today its cost is equivalent to $11,700. It was a very expensive thing, despite the limited functions.
“Basically, it was just dialing and calling,” Wood explains. “There were no messages, no cameras. Thirty minutes of talk time, 10 hours of battery charging and a 15cm antenna on top.”
It weighed 790g, almost four times as much as the iPhone 14 (172g).
However, Cooper is still not impressed with the design of modern phones.
He admits he never expected phones to one day become portable “supercomputers” with cameras and Internet access. Nevertheless, in modern models, he does not like everything.
“I think that today’s phone is suboptimal. It’s really not a very good phone in many ways,” he says. “Just think. You take a flat piece of plastic and glass and apply it to the crook of your head. You hold your hand in an uncomfortable position. And when you want to do all the amazing things it can do, you have to download the app first.”
He believes that in the future, artificial intelligence will either create or select applications for phone owners depending on their individual needs. And that one day the device will monitor our health, maximize our productivity and improve life immeasurably.
At one point, he even suggested that they could help eliminate wars.
“A cell phone won’t do it by itself,” he admits. “But it will be a central part of this great future.”
Cooper notes that phones have come a long way in 50 years, but that’s just the beginning: “We’re still at the very beginning of the cell phone revolution.”
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