Monday, April 7, 2008

35th Anniversary of the First Public Cell Phone Call!



Standing on a sidewalk across from the Hilton hotel in mid-town Manhattan 35 years ago today, Martin Cooper did something never done before.

On 3rd April 1973, standing on a street near the Manhattan Hilton, Mr. Cooper decided to attempt a private call before going to a press conference upstairs in the hotel.

He picked up the 2-pound Motorola handset called the Dyna-Tac and pushed the "off hook" button. The phone came alive, connecting Mr. Cooper with the base station on the roof of the Burlington Consolidated Tower

To the bewilderment of some passers-by, he dialed the number and held the phone to his ear. Dr Cooper placed a phone call to his rival Joel Engel, Bell Labs head of research. That was the beginning!!

"People want to talk to other people -- not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire. It is that freedom we sought to vividly demonstrate in 1973," said Cooper.

He added, "As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren't cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter -- probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life."

Following the April 3, 1973, public demonstration, using a "brick"-like 30-ounce phone, Cooper started the 10-year process of bringing the portable cell phone to market. Motorola introduced the 16-ounce "DynaTAC" phone into commercial service in 1983, with each phone costing the consumer $3,500.

It took seven additional years before there were a million subscribers in the United States. Today, there are more cellular subscribers than wireline phone subscribers in the world, with mobile phones weighing as little as 3 ounces.

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