Cell Phone

[Note: Written in July 2006]

Over 65% of Americans own a cell phone, while in Europe, there are more cell phones than people.

Ever since its invention, the telephone has been seen as a liberator; no longer did you have to be physically in the same place as another person to be able to talk to them. However, you did have to be tethered to a wall in a house, or a payphone. Phones were not mobile.

Truly portable two-way communication began to take shape in the 1930s, primarily as a way to contact police cars. This evolved into the Citizens Band, or CB radios used primarily by truck drivers.

In the 1960s and 1970s the movers and shakers of the entertainment and business industries installed phones in their cars. These units utilized a system not unlike Vietnam War-era radio backpacks.

Then, in early 1973 Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola called a rival researcher at Bell Labs while walking the streets of New York using his newly created prototype. Ten years later, Motorola unveiled the unit as the DynaTAC 8000X, the first true mobile phone. The DynaTAC was a behemoth by any standards. It was ten inches high and weighed nearly two pounds. By comparison, the 2006-era one piece cell phone is less than five inches long and weighs about six ounces.

Five years later in 1978 Motorola tested the first cellular network in Chicago.

By this time, mobile phones weighed several times the weight of today’s cell phone, and could only do one thing: make and receive calls. Today’s cell phones are packed with features such as Internet, games, flashlights, MP3 playback, and are still smaller than their decades old predecessors.

As more people buy them, and as more and more people buy them, cell phones show no sign of slowing down any time soon.


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