The First Mobile Phone Call Was Made 40 Years Ago Today

You talk to it everyday, stroke it, keep it close by when you sleep and use it to share your world with those close to you. Cell phones are as ubiquitous today as well, we can’t really think of any other product consumers cherish so universally. And it all started 40 years ago with the first public call made from a mobile phone.

On April 3 1973, Motorola employee Martin Cooper dialed up his rival on a Motorola DynaTAC — think Zach Morris’ brick of a phone.

The phone was nine inches tall, contained 30 circuit boards, had a talk-time of 35 minutes and took 10 hours to recharge, reports The Guardian. And of course, no camera or apps, something kids these days would find totally laughable.

Cooper recalled that noteworthy call to The Verge in a great interview last year, remembering his rivalry with the guy who had his job at AT&T. He ran the Bell System cellular program at the time, while Cooper was in charge of Motorola’s cellular program.

“I have to tell you, to this day, he resents what Motorola did in those days. They thought that we were a gnat, an obstacle. They had a vision, and their vision was that they were going to run this thing, and do it in their way… and of course, as I mentioned before, we believed in competition and lots of players. And we also believed — our religion was portables, because people are mobile. And here they were trying to make a car telephone and a monopoly on top of that. So that battle was the reason that we built that phone. We built the phone to prove to the world that you didn’t have to have a monopoly running the business, you didn’t have to have those resources to make cellular a reality.”

Hold up — a cell phone company that believed in competition? Those really were the days, even if you couldn’t order up a take-out feast with a swipe of the touch screen. He doesn’t say what words he spoke but we imagine it was something like, “You got served,” or along those lines.

Happy Anniversary, mobile phones. We’re so grateful to all you’ve done to make our lives more like the Jetsons, sometimes we can’t even bear to put you down.

Mobile phone’s 40th anniversary: from ‘bricks’ to clicks [The Guardian]
The Verge Interview: Marty Cooper, father of the cellphone [The Verge]