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From bricks to clicks, mobile phones turn 40

Mobile phone technology has come a long way since the first mobile phone call was made 40 years ago — but there is a lot more innovation ahead, according to experts.

gadgets Updated: Apr 04, 2013 00:42 IST

Mobile phone technology has come a long way since the first mobile phone call was made 40 years ago — but there is a lot more innovation ahead, according to experts.

It was on 3 April 1973 that Motorola employee Martin Cooper made a call in New York on a Motorola DynaTAC – dubbed a “brick” due to its size and weight, which was widely regarded globally as the first public mobile phone call.

The device was 9 inches tall, comprised 30 circuit boards, had a talk-time of 35 minutes, and took 10 hours to recharge.

Four decades on, a worldwide telecoms industry with annual revenues of £800 billion has grown rapidly based on wide choice, falling prices and an array of technologies, resulting in the average mobile being used to take photos, play music and games, send emails, download maps, watch video clips, all as well as talking and texting.

Mike Short, an expert from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said Cooper’s phone call is the first public call people recognise as being a cellular mobile call.

He said the 10 years following that first call were “very much developmental”, with research being carried out in laboratories before services were launched in 1981 in the US.

“Since its first use 40 years ago, the mobile phone has completely changed our lives.” The first decade was a research or a ‘demonstrator’ phase, rapidly followed by analogue networks deployed over 10 years from the early 1980s largely based on carphones and used in business in the developed world.

The two most significant developments in mobile phone technology have been the widespread availability of devices and their ability to access the internet. As phones have become more affordable and sit lightly in the palm of hand, innovators are working to enhance aspects of modern devices further.

Guardian News Service