50 years of the cellphone; here’s how it has evolved- QHN

Martin Cooper, an American engineer at Motorola, made history on April 3, 1973 when he made the first call from a cellphone he had developed to Joel Engel, a competitor working for Bell Labs, in New York.

DynaTAC 8000X weighed 1.1 kg and measured 9.1 x 5.1 x 1.8 in (23 x 13 x 4.5 cm), or equivalent to a one-litre bottle of water. According to a report, the device offered a talk time of just 30 minutes and required 10 hours to recharge. It’s been 50 years since and according to Cooper, the world has become “too obsessed” with his invention.

TRTWorld quoted Cooper, dubbed the father of the cellphone, as saying that “the neat little device we all have in our pockets has almost boundless potential and could one day even help us conquer disease. ”

The rise of cellphones

The devices became popular during the telecom revolution of the nineties. According to a report by Versus, there were 11 million cellphone users in 1900 and 2.5 billion in 2020.

From brick-sized handsets popular with stockbrokers to intensely powerful computers that sit in our pockets, mobile phones have been forged by a half-century of innovation.


Siemens in 1985 introduced its first mobile phone, which came packed in a suitcase. The Siemens Mobiltelefon C1 was followed by some compact mobile phones.


The first Nokia phone was launched in 1987, called the Mobira Cityman 900. The phone weighed 800g (28 oz), battery included and only the affluent could afford it.


Samsung joined the league in 1988 and launched its first cellphone, the SH-100. It was officially the first mobile phone designed and manufactured in Korea.


Amid a market of brick-size cellphones, Motorola launched the first flip phone. Before the MicroTAC model, most cellphones were bulky and usually installed in cars due to their size.

The nineties

As the world progressed through the 90s, phones became lighter and the antennas thinner. Nokia released the1011 model, the first mass-produced GSM (2G) phone, in 1992.

In the same year, the first-ever text message was sent by a developer to the company director at Vodafone’s office Christmas party. The text message said: “Merry Christmas!”

In the late nineties, Nokia began its string of innovations and in 1997, with its 6110 model, it introduced mobile games to the masses with its iconic “Snake” game.

Nokia 7110 became the first phone to use a wireless network for browsing the internet. Nokia 3210, another model, brought predictive writing to the world.

In 2001, Japan became the first country to benefit from a 3G mobile network, allowing access to high-speed mobile internet.

It came hot on the heels of other Japanese innovations which included a phone with video-calling capabilities, the Kyocera VP-210 in 1999, and a year later the Sharp SH04, the first with a built-in back camera.

Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone in 2007 to an adoring crowd and said, “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone”. The device, known as iPhone 2G, removed most physical hardware buttons in favour of a touch-based interface.

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