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History of cell phones

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  • Evan Koblentz
    Recently I saw a few posts on Facebook, in the mainstream media, etc., about how April 2013 is a milestone anniversary of when Motorola s Marty Cooper
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 3, 2013
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      Recently I saw a few posts on Facebook, in the mainstream media, etc., about how April 2013 is a milestone anniversary of when Motorola's Marty Cooper "invented" the "first" cell phone ... as if that happened from just one person in a vacuum.

      Reality check: Mobile radio phones had been around for decades when Cooper led a team that made ** a ** cellular phone, just as Bell Labs was also doing. Bell Labs, one could argue, developed something far more important -- the concept of cellular ** networks ** -- three decades pre-Cooper.

      In '73, Cooper hyped the "first" cellular call to his rival at Bell Labs. First of * what * exactly? Both companies had years of R&D; numerous test calls had been done in both companies' laboratories. Commercial service didn't arrive until '83 (also in Finland and Japan).

      But for most of the 21st century, Cooper has been actively (not passively) telling anyone who'll listen that he "invented" the cell phone, as if it magically came about one day.

      I don't know Cooper. Never met him. All I know is what I've read about it. But my impression is, while he may have been a good engineer, his true talent is in self-promotion.

      Anyway, I'm not writing this message to knock Cooper. Just reminding everyone that "first" is a very dangerous word in the history of technology. Keep that in mind when reading/posting online.
    • Dan Roganti
      ... The engineers from Star Trek created the First communicator
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 4, 2013
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        On 4/4/2013 2:32 AM, Evan Koblentz wrote:
        >
        > Anyway, I'm not writing this message to knock Cooper. Just reminding everyone that "first" is a very dangerous word in the history of technology. Keep that in mind when reading/posting online.

        The engineers from Star Trek created the First communicator
        :)
      • William Donzelli
        ... Motorola deserves the credit. The Bell System dropped the ball (or probably had the ball stripped from them, thanks to the landline crowd). Actually
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 4, 2013
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          > Reality check: Mobile radio phones had been around for decades when Cooper
          > led a team that made ** a ** cellular phone, just as Bell Labs was also
          > doing. Bell Labs, one could argue, developed something far more important --
          > the concept of cellular ** networks ** -- three decades pre-Cooper.

          Motorola deserves the credit. The Bell System dropped the ball (or
          probably had the ball stripped from them, thanks to the landline
          crowd). Actually getting the cell network to function properly in the
          real world was *far* more difficult that coming up with the idea.

          Anyway, most of the concepts of the cell network were up and running
          in 1943, as part of the Allied VHF radio fighter control system (SCS-2
          and SCS-3, I think). Not handheld telephones, mind you, but 50 pound
          aircraft radios.

          The Germans probably also had a comparable system, but that info is
          probably lost.

          --
          Will
        • David Riley
          ... Which is something the cell network operators have been finding true of OFDM now that they re trying to deploy LTE. It s a great *idea*, but making it
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 4, 2013
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            On Apr 4, 2013, at 10:13 AM, William Donzelli <wdonzelli@...> wrote:

            > > Reality check: Mobile radio phones had been around for decades when Cooper
            > > led a team that made ** a ** cellular phone, just as Bell Labs was also
            > > doing. Bell Labs, one could argue, developed something far more important --
            > > the concept of cellular ** networks ** -- three decades pre-Cooper.
            >
            > Motorola deserves the credit. The Bell System dropped the ball (or
            > probably had the ball stripped from them, thanks to the landline
            > crowd). Actually getting the cell network to function properly in the
            > real world was *far* more difficult that coming up with the idea.

            Which is something the cell network operators have been finding
            true of OFDM now that they're trying to deploy LTE. It's a
            great *idea*, but making it work in the real world with all
            that pesky multipath interference is... challenging. :-)


            - Dave
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