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40 glorious years: Long live mobile phones!

Last updated on: April 5, 2013 09:30 IST

40 glorious years: Long live mobile phones!

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From a cumbersome machine that weighed over a kilogram and had a talk time of just 20 minutes, the mobile phones have come a long way.

When engineer Martin Cooper made the first landmark phone call from this first rudimentary mobile phone, he would never have imagined that after 40 years, mobile phones would facilitate almost all imaginable services to the mankind.

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Image: Dr. Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, with DynaTAC prototype from 1973 (in the year 2007).
Photographs: Rico Shen/Wikimedia Commons.
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Cooper's breakthrough paved way for a communication revolution that transformed our lives forever, making these sleek handsets an integral part of our lives.

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Image: DynaTAC8000X.
Photographs: Redrum0486/Wikimedia Commons.
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On April 3, 1973, an engineer Martin Cooper made the first call from a mobile phone, a Motorola DynaTAC.

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Image: Evolution of mobile phones.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons.
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The phone used for the first mobile conversation was nine inches tall, weighed 2.5 pounds and took 10 hours to recharge!

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Image: A woman talks on her phone while watching the sun set behind a cruise ship used to house attendees to the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.
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The first cellular phone was the culmination of efforts began at Bell Labs, which first proposed the idea of a cellular system in 1947, and continued to appeal to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for channels through the 1950s and 1960s, and research conducted at Motorola.

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Image: Attendees photograph President Barack Obama with their mobile phones at a Women's History Month reception at the White House in Washington.
Photographs: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.
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In 1960, John F. Mitchell, an electrical engineer became Motorola's chief engineer for its mobile communication products.

Mitchell oversaw the development and marketing of the first pager to use transistors.

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Image: A Russian cadet uses a mobile phone to photograph other cadets in an MTS shop in St.Petersburg.
Photographs: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters.
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Motorola had been developing mobile telephones for automobiles. But those were large and heavy and consumed too much power.

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Image: A woman uses her mobile phone as she sits under a portrait of a young girl while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.
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Mitchell's team, which included Martin Cooper, developed portable cellular telephony. He was among the Motorola employees who were granted a patent for this work in 1973.

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Image: Cleaners clean the stairs as a man using a mobile phone walks by at Sejong Centre for the Perfoming Arts in central Seoul.
Photographs: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters.
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The first call on the prototype was reportedly to a wrong number.

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Image: A Jewish man speaks on his mobile phone during the second day of the World Economic Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters.
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While Motorola was developing the cellular phone itself, during 1968-1983, Bell Labs worked on the system called AMPS, which became the first cellular network in the US Motorola and others designed cell phones for that and other cellular systems.

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Image: ibetan monks use their mobile phones in Lhasa, Tibet.
Photographs: Joe Chan/Reuters.
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Martin Cooper led a team that produced the DynaTAC 8000x, the first commercially available cellular phone, and made the first phone call from it.

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Image: A woman speak on a mobile phone while attending an equestrian games festival in Bishkek.
Photographs: Vladimir Pirogov/Reuters.
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The DynaTAC handset was expensive. Priced at a steep $3,995 ($9209 in present-day terms), it was not likely to be mass-market product.

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Image: A woman talks on her mobile phone at the trunk of her car as she waits for rescue on a flooded street in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Several versions were made between 1973 and 1983. The product accepted by the FCC weighed 28 ounces (790 gm) and was 10 inches (25 cm) high, not including its flexible "rubber duck" whip antenna.

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Image: A stock trader dressed as a chicken stands on the trading floor at the German stock exchange in Frankfurt.
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters.
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The DynaTAC 8 Series, Classic, Classic II, Ultra Classic, and Ultra Classic II had a display with red LEDs; the DynaTAC International Series with green LEDs, and the DynaTAC 6000XL used a vacuum fluorescent display.

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Image: A woman looks as two men dressed as Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walk toward a protest on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Photographs: Andrew Kelly/Reuters.
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These displays were severely limited in what information they could show. The battery allowed for a call of up to 60 minutes, after which it was necessary to charge the phone up to 10 hours.

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Image: A motorist talks on his mobile phone as he waits at traffic lights in Beijing.
Photographs: Petar Kujundzic/Reuters.
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While still retaining the DynaTAC name, the 6000XL was completely unrelated to the DynaTAC 8000 Series. It was a transportable phone meant for installation in a vehicle.

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Image: A man takes a picture of a friend posing inside a public telephone booth painted by Brazilian artist Carla Pires during the Call Parade art exhibition in Sao Paulo.
Photographs: Nacho Doce/Reuters.
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The DynaTAC Series was succeeded by the MicroTAC Series in 1989. By 1998, when Mitchell retired, cellphones and associated services made up two thirds of Motorola's $30 billion in revenue.

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Image: Ashok Aswani, a 63-year-old doctor dressed up as Charlie Chaplin, talks on a phone along a road in Adipur, Gujarat.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.
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By the end of 2011, there were 78 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people in the developing world.

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Image: Mathias Rajani, Danish luxury product company Aesir's chief commercial officer, holds a model of his company's new mobile phone during a press presentation in Moscow.
Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters.
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From 1990 to 2012, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to over 6 billion, reaching out to about 87 per cent of the global population.

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Image: A plastinated body of a man is pictured during an exhibition preview at Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) in Vienna.
Photographs: Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters.
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Around 1.7 billion handsets were sold in 2012. The three largest sellers were Samsung, Nokia and Apple.

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Image: Prem, the son of an idol vendor, plays with a mobile phone in front of the idols of Hindu god Krishna at a roadside on the eve of the Hindu festival of Janmashtami.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters.
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China has the largest number of mobile phone subscribers with one billion subscribers.



Photographs: Reuters.
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