American Inventions – First Mobile Phone

Mobile Phones or Cell Phones have changed a lot over the past couple of decades. Our ESL students wouldn’t be very happy if their size and function hadn’t improved so much. We at Hancock International College don’t allow cell phones in class, however, we do respect their many positive contributions to connecting the world. Moblie phones had to start somewhere, and believe it or not they started in the 1970’s. says, “Cooper, an electrical engineering graduate, joined the Motorola team in 1954. His initial assignments were to work on pagers and later on car radiotelephones. This service was based on VHF radio technology that linked with the public telephone network, which, of course, had limitations.

By the beginning of the 1970s, Cooper was worried that Motorola was considerably falling behind its biggest rival, AT&T, the then-leader in car-phone technology. Which is when he made the breakthrough: the world’s first cell phone. It was the Star Trek series, seeing Captain Kirk and his team use their communicator devices, that inspired Cooper to come up with the world-changing invention. The device, which was as big as a brick and weighed 2.2 pounds, was a prototype of the portable cellular 800 MHz phone. It had a single line text-only LED screen.

As soon as the prototype was ready, following only three months of effort, Cooper hosted a press conference in New York, in early April 1973. For the public debut of the world’s first cell phone call, Cooper chose to dial up Joel Engel, at that time the head of research for AT&T.

He recalls the moment in an interview on CNN years later, saying: ‘I called him and and told him, ‘Joel, I am calling you from a cellular phone, a real cellular phone, a handheld, portable, real cellular phone.’ I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was really quiet for a while. My assumption was that he was grinding his teeth. He was very polite and ended the call.’

The journalists attending the press conference were the next ones to test the new device, a call from it proving to them that the thing was working. This was not science-fiction. The cell phone was a sensation.

It took 10 more years to roll out the first Federal Communications Commission approved cell phone that was developed for mass-market use. Released in 1983, it was only half the weight of the original Motorola DynaTAC handset, but the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X had an extended battery life, which allowed an “entire” half an hour of talk. The pleasure to own one cost $3,995, the equivalent of more than $9,000 at 2017 prices.”

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Idiom of the Day

Upwardly Mobile

Meaning: Ascending or having the ability to ascend in social rank, esteem, or class.

Example: I was worried that Janet’s wealthy parents would think I wasn’t upwardly mobile enough to go out with their daughter.