Cell Phone History
Had someone told my grandparents that one day we would have tiny phones that we could carry around with us and use everywhere, they would have scoffed at such a crazy notion. My grandparents passed away before the cell phones we know today were developed, but I know that if they were still with us, they would be amazed at this awesome technology of which they (and many others) never thought possible.
This is a common way of thinking though and history has seen this type of disbelief for as long as the world has been in existence.
Picture living in the year 1800 and telling someone that one day wagon travel would be obsolete because one day a machine would be developed that used a motor to move you along. They thought this was insanity talking and yet look at all the amazing models of cars we have today! For our generation, cars are a normal part of life. Cell phones however were seen developing during my lifetime and many others from the Gen X group. Let us take a look at how they have evolved into what we have in our pockets today.
The 80s Cell Phone
Most people think that the first cell phone was developed in the early 1980’s; 1983 to be exact. However, the police over in Sweden are the first ones to develop a type of mobile phone in 1946. This model was like a two way radio and was connected to the police station through radio waves. This is nothing like the technology we know today. The one who began our trek to today’s cell phones was Amos Edwards. He invented a protocol for more modern cell phones in 1970 but did not gain approval from the FCC until 1982. By 1983, the world was introduced to the first actual cell phone. This was the first generation of cell phones.
The phone on the right was first put on the market by Motorola as the world’s first portable phone. This baby weighed 2 pounds and was 13 inches long. The cost of having one was a whopping $4,000. The battery only allowed for one hour of charge and would hold up to 30 stored numbers. They could be charged though your cars lighter adaptor and their carriers looked like briefcases. Call quality was low since they ran on analog systems and there were many bugs to work out. Fortunately, they were and we now have the devices we have come not be able to live without.
The 90s and onwards cell phone explosion
The second generation of cell phones came in the 1990’s. This 2G model of cell phone worked off of computer chips and this allowed for them to be designed smaller with longer lasing batteries. From here, cell phones began to thrive and very quickly, they added newer and newer technology at a faster rate.
The third generation followed closely behind the second generation. These are the cell phones that we know today. Texting, SMS, Wi-Fi, internet, cameras and so much more. Look familiar?
This is what you likely have on your side right now. They are changing every day as the competing companies work hard to outdo each other with newer apps and fasters operating systems. No matter what you think of the cell phones of today, it must be admitted that they are a much better design than the cell phones in the 80’s, and at least we do not need a brief case to carry them around with us!
A look back at cell phones lost in history
Take a look at some of the most popular models of cell phones through the years.
The 1983 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X has already been covered above. This was the most popular phone of its time because there was very little to compare it to, so let’s move on.
In 1989 Motorola MicroTAC 9800X is counted as being the first honestly portable phone. Before it was put out, cells were put in cars and left there because they were too hard to carry around. This new model, while still bulky, was totally portable.
Things moved quickly from here and Bellsouth/IBM got into the cell phone game with the Simon Personal Communicator in 1993. This is a notable model because it was the very first PDA/cell phone combo device.
We cannot pass up the phone that became a raging popularity when it appeared in the movie the Matrix – the Nokia 8110. AKA the Banana Phone.
In 1992 came the Motorola International 3200 which was the very first hand sized cell phone that was also digital. The year 1994 provided us with the Nokia 1011 which was the first mass produced cell phone with GSM. Finally, there was some competition for Motorola!
1998 was the turning point for cell phones. This is when the Nokia 911Oi came out and was the first model that was lighter in weight and had features that are obvious now as being precursors to the Smartphone we know today.
From there came phones with browsers, GPS systems and internet access. The designs have changed dramatically in the past (almost) 30 years. With the high competition we will see more new and improved qualities in cell phones and maybe when our children are grown up they will look at what we have now and say “You have got to be kidding me!”
About the author
Gabriela is a tech enthusiast, passionate about the mobile industry and gadgets. She’s a technology entrepreneur, co-founder of UnlockUnit.com.