First cell phone call kicks off an amazing journey (photos)

First cell phone call kicks off an amazing journey (photos)

Summary: When Marty Cooper called his rival 40-years ago, he knew he had something good, but no clue aout how good. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly models in cell phone history.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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  • This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first cell phone call when Marty Cooper of Motorola spoke to his rival Joel Engler at Bell Labs to gloat over the new invention. He made the call on a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x which weighed 2.5 pounds and had a single-line, text-only LED screen. The phone had a battery life of 20 minutes.

    Let's take this opportunity to revive and update a gallery from 2006 showing the history of the cell phone — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Photo credit: CNET

  • The Dynatac lays claim to being the world's first proper mobile phone and was the first to sport the 'brick' look. While other 'mobile' devices had come before the Dynatac, they involved not only carrying a handset but lugging a huge briefcase-sized battery along with it.

    The 'shoe phone', as it was known, first came onto the market in 1984 costing nearly $4,000 and promising around a half an hour of talk time. The Dynatac prospered nonetheless and inspired Nokia to come up with the Cityman, an equally heavyweight brick phone aimed at the business market. The candybar mobile was born.

    By legend, the phone's key breakthrough came after is was used by Michael Douglas in the movie, Wall Street.

    Photo credit: Motorola

  • More than a decade later and phones no longer required Popeye-style muscles to be carried around. Motorola dreamt up the Startac, one of the first notable clamshell designs - a form factor arch-rival Nokia has shunned by and large to the present day.

    Among the other innovations the Startac brought to the market was the vibrating ring, and the device also sported a relatively new invention that operators didn't really think would be a big hit with consumers - the text message. In 2004, Motorola brought out a 10th anniversary edition.

    Photo credit: Motorola

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Topic: Mobility

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6 comments
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  • Wow, 2 pretty stunning omissions

    Palm and Pocket PC / Windows Mobile. These were what apple put into their Xerox machine (the one they stole from Parc) in order to create the iphone.

    Kudos to Palm and Microsoft.
    toddbottom3
  • How convenient to forget about Newton...

    the progenitor of both Palm and Windows mobile. Your hate know no bounds...oh...and you know nothing you grade-school drop out!
    The Danger is Microsoft
  • Blackberry 7290...

    I've used one with GoAmerica with a data-only service and I liked it a lot. I also liked Windows Mobile 5.0 back around 2005 and two years later after my contract is up my UT-StarCom PPC-6700's resistive touch screen broke down on me (no, the glass wasn't broken, but the resistive touch screen got mis-calibrated like 10 pixels down when I tap with a stylus and it can't be fixed). I am cheap and I needed a way to get in contact using e-mail, Internet relay service (711), and instant messenger and be able to surf the web.

    By 2009, I've once got Samsung Ace with Windows Mobile 6.1 Smartphone Edition as it has a keyboard and no touchscreen. I've had to establish my credit with Sprint and I've never miss a payment. These days, I've pretty much only cared for data as I don't see myself using 200+ minutes of voice per month -- much less 100 or 50 as I don't talk a lot in the phone due to not having something like "HD Voice." I'm hearing impaired. But now, I have T-Mobile with $30/month 100 voice minutes, unlimited texting, and 5GB of 4G data/unlimited 2G data. And with what I'm paying for, that is the perfect solution I need.
    Grayson Peddie
  • Trivia Question

    Why was it called a "shoe phone"?
    ldo17
    • Shoe Phone

      In the 1960's spy sitcom Get Smart, agent 86, Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams, had a phone in one of his shoes (or maybe both? only one at a time ever rang), which rang with a standard landline bell sound when a call came in. To answer it, or make a call, he had to take his shoe off, slide the heel to one side to reveal a dial (yep, rotary dial), listen to the heel, and talk into the sole near the toe.

      As a father whose son was growing up in the 1980's, I was amused to note that Don Adams also did the voice for the kiddie police character Inspector Gadget, and basically, Gadget was the SAME CHARACTER as Maxwell Smart with a different job, and doing it the same humorously incompetent way. One thing that was creepier was that the animated character had telescoping metal prosthetic limbs, though. But Gadgets little niece Penny and her dog (both smarter than her uncle) had the first laptop with universally available wi-fi, usually using it to hack the bad guy's machines and save her uncle. So Adams was connected indirectly with two "tech predictions" on television.
      jallan32
  • Xelibri by Siemens (9 of 13 above)

    I never saw one of those in real life, but with the pink trim, it must have been marketed to young ladies. It even opens like a package of birth control pills with buttons where the pills would be (but the wrong spacing). That would have made it scary to PARENTS of American teenage girls, but since it was sold in Japan, that would not be a problem.
    jallan32