Portrait of the “father” of mobile phones

Portrait of the “father” of mobile phones

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2021-09-01 13:42:04

Marty Cooper, a native of Chicago, was a Navy submarine officer. Around the early 1970s, while serving as a senior director at Motorola, he began to come up with the idea of ​​a truly mobile phone.

Image of the world’s first mobile phone

At this point, “mobile” phones are essentially devices that are permanently attached to cars. They operate by radio waves and have unstable connections.

In 1972, the idea of ​​a mobile network began to be implemented. Instead of using radio waves with high coverage but weak signal, telecom companies are thinking about dividing cities into smaller regions. When the user moves from one area to another, the call is roamed accordingly.

At that time, AT&T, a rival of Motorola, asked the FCC (Federal Communications Commission of the United States) to license the exclusive rights to the mobile radio transmission technology. However, their aim is not to develop mobile phones, but to expand their car phone business.

“They want to take over our jobs, but they’re going in the wrong direction. They want people to depend on cars, where we only spend about 5% of our time,” Cooper said.

Motorola wants to demonstrate that unleashing the wave of competition helps drive growth, creating more innovation. Cooper’s team started with design, not technology.

“The device has to be small enough to fit in your pocket, and it also has to be large enough to fit between your ear and mouth,” he explains.

Cooper showed a reporter a mock-up of the original design. “This is the first version of a mobile phone model. Its size is only a tenth of the original design,” Cooper said.

In just three months, Cooper personally oversaw the construction of a working cell phone. He named it DynaTAC. “You can talk for 25 minutes before the phone runs out of battery,” he said.

“I made a call on 6th Avenue in New York, in front of the Hilton,” he recalls.

So who received that call? It was Joel Engel, Cooper’s direct rival at AT&T.

On April 3, 1973, Cooper made the world’s first residential cell phone call, in front of many reporters.

“Joel, I’m calling you on a cell phone, but it’s a real cell phone, a personal cell phone, a handheld,” was Cooper’s first words to his opponent.

Of the first mobile calling made by Marty Cooper

Cooper left Motorola in 1983. He and his wife Arlene Harris founded a series of companies in the telecommunications industry.

Cooper notes that while mobile phones have come a long way, we are only in the early stages of tapping into its potential.

“We are just at the beginning. Mobile phones can help revolutionize many industries, many different fields such as education, health…”, Mr. Cooper said.

Currently, at the age of 92, Cooper still regularly exercises and walks. Talking about his newly released book, he said Hollywood had bought the rights to make a movie.


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