What Was The First-Ever Mobile Phone Call

It is difficult to conceive of the modern business world without the flexibility of mobile solutions allowing executives to continue to organise, plan and negotiate whilst far away from the office.

Because of this, the development of the mobile phone and the evolution of businesses into fast-moving, efficient, multinational entities are not merely parallel but interlinked. Businesses need mobility to thrive, and mobile technologies rely on businesses to fund the future.

However, the first mobile call would take 11 years from being developed to becoming a commercial reality, with a pair of historic phone calls that would evoke the legacy of telecommunications and become the starting point of a rapidly developing future.

 

Rival Conversations

The cellular network that serves as the foundation for mobile communication was first proposed in 1946 by engineers at Bell Labs, but it would take a decade for the technology to become feasible for use, with different countries developing the technology in parallel.

Initially, it was only used for car phones, starting as early as 1946 by Motorola, but the bulk of the telephones, their initial expense and their exceptionally low capacity meant that the technology did not catch on outside of the luxury market and certain businesses that required long-distance communication.

By the 1970s, however, the potential for a handheld mobile telephone was quickly looking to become a possibility, and two companies in the United States were racing to see who could come up with a technology that was seen as confined to comic books and science fiction.

Martin Cooper of Motorola was inspired by Dick Tracy’s wrist radio communicator and believed that a telephone should not identify a house, a desk or a car but a person.

Meanwhile, Dr Joel Engel of Bell Labs was part of a major research group into mobile phone systems, developing the early mobile network system that would make mobile phones possible.

Bell Labs and Motorola were fierce rivals, and the infamous first mobile telephone call was made by Mr Cooper on 3rd April 1973 to Dr Engel, simply telling “Joel” that “Marty” was calling him from a real mobile phone.

This model, the DynaTAC, was the first mobile phone to successfully make a call and would become the first mobile phone to be commercially sold, although it would take just over a decade for this to happen.

 

A Decade Of Waiting

In some respects, the DynaTAC was too early; it was bulky, had a battery life of just half an hour on a ten-hour charge, and weighed over a kilogramme, making it little more than a curiosity and a glimpse at the future at first.

However, that glimpse of the future was tantalising to businesses and Motorola was keen to release it as soon as possible. However, due to legal proceedings and legislation on the cellular networks needed for these phones to work, it would take until 1983 for the first commercial call to take place.

Somewhat fittingly, the first ever call on 13th October 1983 would include the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor who had the first telephone call, in a conference with Bob Barnet of Ameritech Mobile Communications and David Meilahn.

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