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Did You Know? 51 Years Ago a Cellphone was Made

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Vusi Melane
Vusi Melane
Staff Writer

On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper stood on a sidewalk on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan with a device the size of a brick and placed the first public call from a cell phone to one of the men he had been competing with to develop the device.

Then Engineer for Motorola, Cooper said on the phone to Head for AT&T owned Bell Labs, Joel Engel.


“I’m calling you on a cell phone, but a real cell phone, a personal, handheld, portable cell phone.”

While cell phones would not be available to the average consumer for another decade, anyone walking by Cooper on the street that day could have witnessed history in the making.

In the 51 years since that inaugural call, Cooper’s bulky device has evolved and been supplanted by a diverse array of thinner, faster phones that are now ubiquitous, reshaping industries, culture, and the way we relate to one another and ourselves. However, while the vast reach and impact of cell phones may have caught some off guard, Cooper asserted that the potential for mobile phones to one day be deemed essential to much of mankind was evident from the outset.

“I was not surprised that everybody has a cell phone,” Cooper, now 95, said last year through an interview. “We used to tell the story then that someday when you’re born you would be assigned a phone number. If you didn’t answer the phone, you would die.”

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the first handheld cellular phone that allowed people to make longer distance calls than just a landline phone. It did not require any lines or cords to be attached to make a call. The first ever cellular phone call was made in 1973, using this phone, by Dr. Martin Cooper.

Source: Georgia Southern University- College of Arts and Humanities/ Digital Humanities

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