The cell phone has achieved something that many people want to accomplish: It has gotten better with age! Here's a quick look at the history of cell phones.
On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper debuted the first cell phone featuring a fashionable brick-like design. The model looked as stylish as a shoebox and weighed a hefty 30 ounces. The bells and whistles on this design were the sounds you heard when pressing buttons, as the phone's primary purpose was to make phone calls.
Martin Cooper debuting the
world's first cell phone
As with most new technologies, adoption was slow. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the idea of a portable telephone actually started to gain traction with the public. In 1983, Motorola released the DynaTAC phone, sported by celebrities such as Michael Douglas in Wall Street. It’s probably safe to say that the actors often made the phones look more attractive than they actually were.
Michael Douglas sporting a fashionable
80s cell phone in "Wall Street"
In the 90s, the mobile phone actually became mobile with the first pocket-sized version. Featuring a black, glossy cover and a basic dot-matrix LED screen, the first pocket phone weighed 12.3 ounces. It also introduced the world to the flip design and built-in phonebook that is standard in cell phones today.
Celebrities touting the slimmer design included Robin Williams in Hook, Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding and Conspiracy Theory, the "Sex in the City" women, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in Saved by the Bell (aka, Zack Morris, one of the few teens rich enough to afford the $2,495 price tag).
Other models from the 90s featured smaller designs, like the "banana phone" in The Matrix. Toward the end of the decade, cell phone providers began offering customers more ways to customize their phones. Some manufacturers added computer processing units, and Europe led the way with the first GPS-enabled cell phone.
Zack Morris and his infamous cell phone
in the hit series "Saved by the Bell"
From 2000 and on, cell phones have evolved from talking devices into personal digital assistants. Common features now include touch screens, web browsers, QWERTY keyboards, data storage, interactive calendars, Bluetooth capabilities, music platforms, and games. Built-in cameras, featured in films like Minority Report, have become standard on many phones.
Cricket's Huawei Ascend II
The smartphones of today are more than communication devices. They are portable offices and entertainment centers. Individuals can customize everything from the external features of a phone to the internal components. Apps expand upon the basic function of the cell phone and can provide everything from games to movies to software.
The cell phone has matured over the years, offering consumers exactly what they want from mobile devices. Gone are the days of lugging around a brick with a five foot service range. Today, phones weigh around three ounces and offer users the ability to connect from virtually any location. Here’s to four decades of progress!
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