In today’s age of sleek and super fast smartphones, it seems inconceivable that there was a time when cell phones were far from what we are used to seeing all around us. They were big, clunky and generally awkward to handle, and we have definitely come a long way in the 46 years that have passed since the first ever cell phone call.
The first ever cell phone, Motorola’s DynaTAC, weighed an immense two pounds (almost weighing a kilogram)and its battery life was a miserable 20 minutes. However, this device holds a special status in the pages of history because it was responsible for starting it all.
Former Motorola vice president and division manager, Martin Cooper, considered Bell Lab’s Joel Engel as his primary rival in the pursuit of coming up with the world’s first handset for wireless communication.
On April 3, 1973, Cooper was walking outside the New York Hilton on Sixth Avenue with the DynaTAC in hand, poised to place the first ever cell phone call. He could have called anyone, of course, but in a moment of sweet victory, he called Engel instead. Yes; the first wireless call was meant to troll a rival!
In an interview with BBC, Cooper recalled the first words that he uttered over the DynaTAC: “Joel, I’m calling you from a ‘real’ cellular telephone. A portable handheld telephone.” This proud declaration was merely met with silence on the other end.
The landscape has changed immensely ever since that historic moment. Now, one can only see “smart” cell phones all around, which are used by people to do a whole host of things other than placing and responding to calls, including browsing the Internet, capturing alluring photos, downloading applications and listening to music on the go.
Motorola is hardly the major player in the field now; tech behemoths like Google, Samsung and Apple have long since taken up the mantle. However, the company’s groundbreaking contribution to human communication can never be forgotten.