The History of Mobile, Pt.1: What was the First Mobile Phone?

Martin Cooper: Father of the mobile phone

Martin Cooper: Father of the mobile phone

The first handheld mobile phone is now over 42 years old. Martin Cooper (pictured above), a Motorola employee, created the handset and made the first mobile call on the 3rd of April, 1973.

Funnily enough the first call was made to inform rival engineers, who were racing to create a mobile phone themselves, that Cooper had succeeded! Up until that point, mobile phones existed that could be used in vehicles, but this was the first fully portable handset.

This first model, created by Motorola, weighed a whopping 1.1 kg, was 23 cm long and 13 cm deep! That weight is equivalent to a little more than nine times the weight of an iPhone 5. That's a hefty thing to carry around, but just imagine the bicep toning that the brick could offer to frequent callers.

Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

However, it wasn't until 10 years and $100 million later that the first working handset was released to the public. The first commercially available mobile phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, released in the US in 1984. This powerhouse offered a talk time of 30 minutes, and only took 10 hours to charge fully. That puts your smartphones poor battery into perspective a bit, no?

At the time the unit ran on a 1G (yes), analog cellular system known as the "Advanced Mobile Phone System" or AMPS, a system predating the introduction of GSM.

The price of this beast (approximately $9,500 when inflation is adjusted for) meant that this handset was only affordable to the rich and elite, making it a bit of a status symbol of that era. In fact, you’ll probably recognise the device from film portrayals of yuppie excess in the 1980s—having been used by Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

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