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How the mobile phone changed the world: Celebrating 50 years of wireless communication

On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper made the first mobile call from a portable cell phone.
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On April 3, 2023, the mobile phone, one of the most influential inventions of the 20th century, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

On that day in 1973, Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the first mobile call from a portable cell phone in New York City. Of all people, he called Joel Engel, his rival at AT&T Bell Labs who was also working on a rival project. “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone,” he said.

That historic call started a revolution in wireless communication that changed the lives of everyone on earth. The mobile phone has enabled people to connect (and stay connected) anytime, anywhere, from personal to professional, social to political, and local to global. It also gave birth to new industries, markets, jobs, and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The mobile phone has come a long way since then. Cooper’s first cell phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, which cost a hefty $3,995 and was the size of a brick measuring 9 inches and weighing 2.5 pounds. It could talk for up to 30 minutes on a single charge (which took 10 hours). The DynaTAC was the culmination of 10 years of development and testing before it became commercially available in 1983.

Today, there are now over 5 billion mobile phone users worldwide. The modern cell phone has evolved into more than just a device for voice calls. It is now a personal computer, a camera, a music player, a GPS device, a game console, a wallet, and an internet gateway.

Moreover, the mobile phone has ushered the development of other technologies and applications, such as text messaging, social media, mobile banking, e-commerce, telemedicine, education, and entertainment.

See also: Ookla awards Smart as the PH’s Fastest and Best Mobile Network at MWC 2023

There’s no denying that the mobile phone is one of the most impactful inventions of all time. It has changed how we communicate, how we work, how we learn, how we play, and how we live. As we celebrate its 50th anniversary, we should also appreciate its potential for positive change.

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