We use them everyday, but how often do we think about how cell phones came to be? It almost seems as if cell phones appeared out of nowhere. One minute we saw rich guys in the 80s lugging around huge, clunky mobile phones, and the next we had a wide assortment of sleeker cellphones at our disposal. Cell phone companies started popping up like blades of grass. Today, it’s unhead of to not have a cell phone. We use cell phones in just about every aspect of life—for emergencies, work, and play. Nowadays, people would rather send a cellular text message instead of talking on the phone. So how did we get here? In this article you’ll read a little history about cell phone technology.
The First Phone
Many people believe that cellphone technology was first conceived and developed in the late 80s and early 90s. After all, the first time many people saw a mobile phone (car phone) in use was in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! But in actuality, engineers have known how to make cell phones since 1947; they just didn’t have the technology to make it work.
The very first cell phone was developed in April 1973 by Dr. Martin Cooper, a manager at Motorola, and a group of fellow inventors. Cooper called his competitor on the cellphone he had just invented. The technology was called AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service). It took ten more years for the first analog cellphone to be developed for commercial use by a company called Ameritech.
After the first cellphone was released to the public, the demand for these phones exploded. It is estimated that there were over one million users within just the first five years. The cellphone providers were overwhelmed, the airways were crowded, and engineers were actively seeking a way to expand service.
In 1987 the FCC finally decided that technologies other than AMPS could be used. Inventors soon developed a wide variety of alternative digital cellphone technologies including TDMA, CDMA, and GSM.
In the United States there are two main cellphone technologies being used : GSM and CDMA. GSM technology requires a SIM card while CDMA does not. Some American GSM providers are AT&T and T-Mobile, while CDMA providers include Verizon and Sprint PCS. CDG.org estimates that there are over 1 billion GSM users as opposed to 270 million CDMA subscribers, so it seems that numberwise GSM phones lead the market.
They say that you’ve got to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going. So now that we have an idea of the history behind cell phone technology, we can proceed with our cell phone obsessions and look forward to the next round of technological innovations in the cellphone industry.