One cannot imagine life without cell phones. I know this is a fact as I can't survive an hour, leave alone a day, without my cell phone. You may call me nuts, but cell phone has me connected to my network of family, friends, acquaintances, professional associates and even Facebook! Just the other day, my friend lost her cell phone and was very heart-broken about losing her favorite piece of high-end technology.
It wasn't just the monetary loss, it was something even more, something even bigger. It was a great emotional loss and loss of private data. We may not realize, but a cell phone becomes a part of our physical, emotional and mental life. The minute we are in trouble, we call our friends and family for help with our cell phone. Or maybe when in a flirtatious mood, we message our partner some cute messages.
When I saw my friend sobbing about her lost cell phone, I got a strange thought in my mind. I had literally no information on the history of mobiles and the gadget is now a part and parcel of a fast paced life. This prompted me to search for some information on history, origin, and advancement of cellular phones.
Cell Phones: A Timeline
It feels just like yesterday, when the best way to communicate with our loved one was the telephone. I still remember how me and my siblings would pounce on the telephone the minute it went 'Tring Tring'. Well, the history of cell phone for kids is not too long, but it is very interesting.
Long, long ago, around 400 BC, in an age before technology was crude and non-existent, the first mobile messenger had been immortalized in time. Pheidippides, a messenger of the Greeks ran from Marathon to Athens with a message of victory over Persians. Unfortunately, due to a faulty connection and excessive overload, Pheidippides lost his battery power and was dead after message delivery.
Then after many a donkey's year, in 1876, Alexender Graham Bell invented the telephone. The first words ever to be spoken over the telephone lines was, 'Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you'. And guess what, Mr. Watson could hear each word crystal clear and today we are running around the house with a cell phone stuck to our ear shouting, "can you hear me now??!!!!".
But, you will be surprised to know, the invention of cell phone was on its way even before the miracle of telephone. Not many people realize it, the origin of cell phones began in 1832, with the conception of electromagnetic telegraph by Samuel Morse. Samuel Morse laid down wires between Governor's Island and Castle Garden on 18th October 1942. Morse, a great inventor, went on to demonstrate that wire messages can be sent through cables underwater.
But a passing ship pulled up his underwater cable. Morse did not back out and successfully sent the telegraph signals through, (you won't believe it) water! This led to the conceptualization of the concept of wireless conduction. Today, we have reached an age of wireless technology and wi-fi signals.
Then came along a super-talented chemist named Michael Faraday, who holds the fame for 'Faraday's Law' and 'Faraday's Constant'. In the year 1843, he began toying with the idea that space can conduct electricity. He set the ball rolling for many famous researchers of the 19th century who were then known as 'crackpots'.
Finally there was a breakthrough in 1865 by Dr. Mahlon Loomis, a Virginia dentist and scientist. He managed to develop a method of communication through the earth's atmosphere with an electrical conductor. Wondering what was his apparatus for conduction? Two kites connected to the ground on two separate mountains with the help of copper screens and wires. The U.S. congress awarded him a grant of USD 50,000 for his electrifying discovery. Today, we transmit radio waves through large towers over our sky scrapers and mountains to help send our cell phone signals.
Then about 50 decades later in 1921, the Police Department on Detroit, Michigan took a step into the world of technological advancement. They installed mobile radios of around 2MHz in their squad cars. But, they encountered overcrowding on the channels and terrible interference with their radio system. Today, we still suffer from bad signals and network congestion on our cell phones.
The US Congress noting the advancement in the technology of radio transmit ion, formed the Federal Communications Commission in 1934. What did this commission do? Well, they monitored the radio frequencies and decided who should be able to use these frequencies. They also reserved certain frequencies, only for the use of the government.
The 1940s saw a radios being operated at 30 to 40 MHz and it became a common feature of the police department. Many affluent people could also boast of a radio. Soon, certain companies and organizations managed to forecast a gold mine and invested in radios. This gold mine has proved to be a path breaking investment of many multi-billion dollar companies today with the cell phone boom.
Another one of a path defying service was established in 1945. St, Louis, Mississippi witnesses establishment of the first mobile-radio-telephone service. There were six channels that added up to 150 MHz. By 1956, America got to choose an option of real car phones. These were bulky and big phones and needed a personal radio operator to switch calls.
In 1969, the first self dialing technology was introduced, that was known as Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS). In 1970, cell phone lobbyist get allocated with a window of 75 MHz in the 800 MHz region, especially for cell phones. AT & T announced the first company in 1971, that proposes a modern mobile phone system. Soon, in 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper invented the first cell phone at Motorola. He exhibited his invention called the Motorola Dyna-Tac to a gasping New York City. He also became the first person to make a call on a portable mobile phone. Hows that Mr. Graham Bell!
In 1985, Motorola phones introduces the Motorola DynaTAC commercially and you may recognize this phone as the Zack Morris as it was popularized by 'Saved by the Bell', a TV series. This cell phone had no features other than the ability to make and receive calls. It had a single line display and basic numeric keypad. It had a miserable battery life and was priced exorbitantly. This made it a toy for the rich.
The cell phones commercially available back then were really bulky, heavy and lacked style. Motorola again became the first company to introduce the first Motorola flip cell phone called the MicroTAC. It had a flap to cover the numeric keypad and at the end of the flap was the microphone. Many breathed a sigh of relief as they could avoid accidentally dialing a number.
With passage of time, Motorola introduced the Motorola StarTAC, that was inspired by the communicator used in the Star Trek series. It had a keypad and display at the bottom half and the earpiece in the top half of the cel phone. It was smaller, lighter, easily portable then the flip phone and was the eye candy of those days. What's more? It was the first cell phone with a feature of vibration!
The 1990s saw the birth of 'second generation' mobile phone systems also known as '2G'. These phones had various features like GSM, IS-136, iDEN, CDMA, etc. In 1991, the first machine generated Short Message Service (SMS) was sent in UK. And very shortly, 1993 witnessed the first person-to-person text messages sent in Finland. 2Day txt msg is a way of lyf LOL (today text message is a way of life!).
1999 was a year of another leap into the advanced cell phone technology. With the World Wide Web (www) becoming a part of life for many like myself! Nokia cell phones introduced the first WAP mobile web surfing application in their Nokia 7110 cell phone. Today, one can chat, check emails, send files, send multimedia files (MMS), check out web browsers and stay connected with the social networking website. By 2000, Nokia got rid of the external antenna and introduced Nokia 3120 with a streamlined appearance and integrated internal antenna. It was also the first mobile with a T9 predictive text, that made SMS a piece of cake.
No one would have ever dreamed of a 'saying cheese' and clicking photos with their phone. Yet another fantasy became a reality with the introduction of the Sharp J-SH04, a camera phone. Today, all one can think of the mega-pixels offered by cell phone makers that will help them click sharper and clearer images.
Introduction of the 3G high-speed data in 2001 became another turning point in the making of cell phones. NTT DoCoMo of Japan, introduced the first pre-commercial 3G network in the form of FOMA. It was launched in the year 2001 on a pre-release WCDMA technology. Today, we have the highly sophisticated 3G mobiles phones in our pockets that double up as a mini version of laptops.
With the advanced technology available and financial support pumped in by many big shots of cell phone world, it has become very unpredictable as to what maybe the future of cell phones. Today, cell phones enable us to make video calls, who knows maybe we can be able to see a 3D image of our caller. Whatever may lie in the future, one thing is sure, cell phones have played a crucial role in shaping world history.