In the 1960s and early ’70s, if you wanted to make a phone call, you did so from a device wired to the telephone grid. When AT&T launched their cellular system for car phones, Dr. Martin “Marty” Cooper and his team at Motorola decided to build a truly wireless mobile phone, a handheld device that would truly free consumers to communicate on the go.
On April 3, 1973, as a demonstration to a journalist, inventor and engineer Marty Cooper called his Bell Labs rival, head of research at AT&T Joel Engle, from out on the street in New York City. At his ear was the first cell phone—“a 10-inch-long, 2.5-pound phone nicknamed ‘the brick'”—an early version of what would become the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X.
“We didn’t know it was going to be historic in any way at all. We were only worried about one thing: Is the phone going to work when we turn it on? Fortunately, it did.”
When it launched to the public in 1983, ten years after that first call, it cost $3,995.
Related technology and invention videos include:
• Introducing the Dial Telephone, films from 1936 & 1954
• In the West Orange lab of Thomas Edison
• The Master Microfixer Teaching the World to Fix iPhones
• The Science Behind String Telephones
via Open Culture.