The Cell Phone Turns 40

April 3, 2013, marked the 40th anniversary of the first call made from a handheld cell phone. But mobile communication had been around for a while. During World War II, soldiers used two-way radio transceivers (walkie-talkies) to communicate from the front line. Read on for more fun facts on the evolution of cell phones since the 1940s –

Car phone (1946)
The first call from a car phone was made in 1946, from a handset under the dash. It used radio frequencies. Within two years, drivers could make calls from their cars in almost 100 cities and highway corridors.

Mobile phones appear in pop culture (1960s)
The idea of being able to call from anywhere continued to capture the public’s imagination. Secret agent Maxwell Smart made calls from his shoe phone in the TV comedy series Get Smart.

First commercial cell phone (1983)
With billions invested in developing cellular service, commercial cell phone service started in 1983. In the decade since Cooper’s prototype was introduced, Motorola was able to shrink the DynaTAC 8000x phone to 28 ounces and offer 60 minutes of talk time. Price tag: $3,995.

First flip phone (1989)
By 1989, there were 3.5 million mobile subscribers and phones were evolving to be more portable. That year, Motorola launched the MicroTAC flip phone, which weighed 10.7 ounces and fit into a jacket pocket. Cost: $2,495.

Early ‘smartphones’ (1994)
They did not become common for another decade, but multi-functional “smartphones” actually existed in the ‘90s. The first, the Simon Personal Communicator from IBM and Bellsouth, had a touchscreen, predictive text, and apps. It launched in 1994 for $899 and was discontinued by early 1995.

BlackBerry phone (2002)
BlackBerry introduced its first devices with phone functionality, a logical extension of its “instant messaging pager,” which had become an essential device for tech executives and politicians. (Even presidential candidate Al Gore was receiving messages at 1:20 a.m. Central time on election night in 2000.) By this time, the brand had already been dubbed “Crackberry” for its addictive nature.

iPhone (2007)
With loads of hype surrounding Apple’s beautifully designed, touchscreen cell phone-music player-Web browser, lines started forming ahead of its launch on June 29. Even the $499 to $599 price tag and AT&T-only service did not discourage consumers. Days after Apple introduced the iPhone, stores were sold out. This smartphone would replace the RAZR as the bestselling phone in 2008.


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