The mobile or cell phone was invented by Martin Cooper in 1973. The history of the cell phone shows that Nathan Stubblefield had a patent in 1908. However the patent was for cave radio phones and not the mobile device as we know it today.
As stated, Stubblefield’s patent was for cave radio telephones, as the device was known then. The mobile phone’s origin can be traced back to the 1940s. Bell Labs had already made some mobile base stations. These were refined in the 1960s but they were mainly for radio telephony.
The main users of radio telephony during those days were the military. These hand held radio gadgets had been patented in 1969 to George Sweigert.
The history of the cell phone began in 1945 and these early phones are now called zero generation phones. It consisted of a solitary base that would cover a specific spot and had very limited coverage.
First Generation Phones
Cooper’s invention was patented on October 17, 1973. the first phone call was made by Cooper months before he applied for the patent, on April 3, 1973. He made the call to Dr. Joel Engel, a researcher at AT&T’s Bell Labs. Cooper was working at Motorola at the time, and the call was made with several media people present.
Soon after, companies started making cellular networks. Although the telephone was still dominant, other companies started coming out with cell phones, although they were still large and heavy.
Second Generation Phones
The next stage in the history of the cell phone was the development of 2G (second generation) phones. Among the earliest 2G phone systems were GSM, IDEN, and IS-95. GSM networks started appearing in 1991 (specifically in Finland).
Compared with the early cell phones, 2G phones had digital circuit switched transmissions. More importantly the phone to network connection was much faster.
Not only was 2G gaining ground, but the design was changing as well. As the cell phones became more powerful, their physical size was being reduced as well. It made usage much easier.
Size shrinkage became possible for two reasons. One, technology made it possible to fit in more circuitry in smaller chips. Secondly, cellular sites became more powerful.
2G phones also introduced the concept of SMS text, which would change the history of the cell phone. SMS was first tried out in Britain. The first text message was done in Finland in 1993. Text messaging would soon be adapted by all cellular phones and networks. Ring tones also started appearing on cell phones.
Designs for third generation (3G) began after 2G phones became the norm. Japan became the first nation to try a 3G network in May 2001. A few months later in October the 3G network was launched commercially by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. The following year 3G networks with CDMA2000 technology appeared in South Korea.
At the beginning of 2003, 3G networks appeared in Europe. These networks first appeared in Britain and Italy.
The history of the cell phone is marked by rapid advances in technology. Today mobile phones are packed with features scarcely imaginable when it first appeared in 1973.
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