Motorola Employee Martin Cooper Makes The First Mobile Phone Call

April 4, 2022

On April 3, 1978, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call. Cooper stood near a 900 MHz base station on Sixth Avenue in New York City and called the Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey. This call was made on DynaTAC (dynamic adaptive total area coverage) 8000X, which later became the first phone to be released commercially.

Holding the 2 1/2-pound prototype to his ear, Cooper called Joel Engel of Bell Laboratories at AT&T. Cooper and his team had envisioned such technology as early as the late 1940s, announcing that the Motorola team had devised the first functional portable phone. The phone weighed 1.1 kg and measured 22.86 cm long, 12.7 cm deep, and 4.44 cm wide. It allowed users to talk for just 30 minutes and required 10 hours to recharge.

The substance of Cooper’s initial mobile conversation is lost to history as he just rang to see if the call would go through and if it sounded good at the other end. Consequently, Motorola management became supportive of Cooper’s mobile phone concept and invested $100 million into the project.

Although it would take another decade for the DynaTAC to reach consumers (and two more decades for cell phones to overtake landlines in worldwide usage), the call was a major step in developing mobile technology. The early cell phones set a precedent for today’s sleek and lightweight models that have become standard equipment for everyone.

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