The Cell Phone Turns 40

Evolution of Cell PhonesMost of you reading this article have a cell phone. This very useful piece of technology celebrates it’s 40th birthday this week. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without cell phones in this day and age.

Cell phones have come a long way over the past 40 years. We’ve gotten so used to our lightweight smartphones with cameras, colour screens, calculators, stopwatches, GPS systems and more, but many of us forget that cell phones were not always this advanced.

Once upon a time everyone had a “brick” that pulled their pants halfway down if they didn’t clip their pouch on their belt buckle. This was also the age before phones had cameras and modern MP3 ringtones, the age when most of you made the Dallas TV theme your monophonic ringtone and when you played Snake on your Nokia 5110 – the age of the “dumb phone”.

The first mobile telephone call was made on the 3rd of April 1973 (40 years ago yesterday) by Martin Cooper (an engineer at Motorola). Cooper’s prototype phone weighed 1.1 kg and was 22.86 cm long, 12.7 cm deep and 4.44 cm wide. The phone had only 30 minutes of talk time and took 10 hours to recharge. The Motorola Dynatac 8000X was the first cell phone which was commercially available in 1983. The phone had a hefty price tag of $3,995 (which is ludicrous even by today’s standards). It was also the first mobile phone which wasn’t installed in a car.

Cell phones became very popular globally in the 1990’s. At the start of the decade there were only 12.4 million of them in the world. Thanks to improved technology, cheaper call and messaging rates, widespread availability, improved easy of use, the introduction of awesome features like cameras and GPS locators and modern day social media integration functions that figure rose to close to 6 billion by the end of 2012. Imagine that amount of phones stacked up on a pile – that’s a lot of phones.

Imagine if Martin Cooper did not make that phone call in 1973? You probably would NOT be able to:

  • make and receive calls when you’re on the move
  • SMS, BBM or Whatsapp message your friends
  • change your Facebook status, send out a Tweet, upload a photo via Instagram or check into a venue via Foursquare.
  • navigate yourself to an area unknown to you via GPS
  • take photos of your friends at parties without carrying your heavy camera with you
  • Google something on the fly if you need to settle an argument with a friend

It’s amazing how integral cell phones has become in our daily lives over the last 40 years. My mom taught me that too much of a good thing is bad for you, but I’m thinking that this doesn’t apply to the cell phone. This awesome gadget will continue making our lives easier and making the world an even smaller place for many years to come.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing is caring after all.

If you need to get rid of your “brick”, feel free to place a free advert on Junk Mail. You can also browse for second hand phones in our Mobile Phones category. You may just find the bargain you’ve been looking for.

Watch this space for regular updates in the General News category on the Junk Mail Blog.

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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