Martin Cooper, the man who developed the first handheld cell phone. (Associated Press File)

Martin Cooper, the man who developed the first handheld cell phone. (Associated Press File)

Cell phone rings in 46th anniversary today

There have been some iconic phones over the years but what’s next?

April 3 marks the 46th anniversary of the first handheld mobile cell phone.

Can you guess which company developed it first? Apple, Nokia, Samsung?

Nope, Motorola.

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On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive made the first mobile telephone call from handheld equipment, calling his rival, Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.

The prototype was clunky, weighing a hefty 1.1 kilograms (2.4 pounds) and measuring 23 centimetres in length.

For consumers annoyed at the short battery charge of modern cell phones, spare a thought for Cooper who had to charge it for 10 hours to get 30 minutes talktime.

Over the years, the cell phone has developed from an extension of radio and static communications equipment, to a status symbol, core business tool and what it is now, a unit that contains the entire knowledge of known human civilization in your pants pocket. And cat videos.

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Some phones have become nostalgic and cultural icons. Remember Michael Douglas and his brick-like Motorola DynaTAC, a symbol of power and yuppy culture in the movie Wall Street?

Or maybe Neo’s Nokia 8110 “banana phone,” popularized in the Wachowski siblings movie, The Matrix?

There have even been reports of gang members trading in the latest Apple handsets for early 2000s favourite the Nokia 3210 for the incredible battery life and the difficulty law enforcement have in accessing the phones for surveillance. It also comes with classic game Snake built in.

Cell phone screens now have 400 pixels per inch, over four times what the early phones had.

Parts that flip, sliding keys, ergonomic designs, tiny screens to all screen, predictive text, flashlights, pens, cameras, ringtones, music, two-handed phones, aerials, fat, slim, lipstick, chunk, apps. The list of innovations and changes goes on.

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But what of the future?

Analysts say longer batteries, image projection and more accurate voice to text software are likely in the not-too-distant future. In the longer term, ambitious features are thought to include wireless charging, flexible phones that can be folded, colour changing frames and credit cards incorporated into the phone itself.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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