From the first mobile phone to smartphones of today: Forty-three years of cell phone history

The first mobile phone call ever made was actually a prank call — such a perfect story that it almost sounds fictional. As Bloomberg reports, this call took place on April 3, 1973. On that day, Martin Cooper, the head engineer working on cellular technology for Motorola, called his competitor Joel Engel from a cell phone while he was walking down the street. According to Mashable, another 11 years passed before the first cell phone was sold to a consumer.

What has changed?

After 43 years have passed, one of the most notable differences in mobile phones is their size. The first cell phones were huge and heavy; Mashable reports that the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X measured 13 by 1.75 by 3.5 inches and weighed 28 ounces. Its antenna had to be raised to get reception, which was fairly spotty at best.

While users may complain about the price of smartphones today, even the most modern devices cost considerably less than the $3,995 paid for the very first mobile phone. Original service plans cost $50 a month, but users also had to pay per minute. This plan was costly: During peak working hours, users were charged 40 cents per minute.

The first mobile phone was only able to place and receive calls; even the seemingly basic voicemail feature wasn’t added until later versions. According to CBC News, the very first smartphone was announced in 1993. This model included features such as email functionality, a pager and a calendar. The next major mobile innovation debuted in 2002: a phone with a built-in camera.

What does the future hold?

It’s clear that today’s smartphones have virtually replaced other consumer technology, such as basic cameras, watches, GPS systems and calendars. While it was rare to own a cell phone decades ago, the opposite holds true today. In fact, data from Pew Research Center indicates that 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone.

Current smartphones are able to do everything from booking dinner reservations to composing melodies. Considering the advancements that have occurred already, it’s intriguing to think about what the coming years could hold for these devices. As CNET reports, the future might see the rise of technology that has been in the works over the course of recent years. This may include solar-powered mobile accessories, devices that can be powered using alternative forms of energy, touchscreens that can manipulate their shape as needed and customizable, modular phones.

Written By

Jennifer Goforth Gregory

B2B Content Marketing Writer

Jennifer Gregory has been writing professionally for over 20 years and specializes in big data analytics, cloud computing, personal finance, B2B, small business management, hospitality, Health IT, credit cards, marketing/social media, content marketing, retirement planning and insurance.…

Other Articles by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
See All Posts