Mobile phone hits 40

Marty Cooper and his team transformed telecommunications in 1973
Marty Cooper poses with the first ever cell phone.
Marty Cooper poses with the first ever cell phone.


The mobile phone celebrated its 40th birthday on Wednesday. The first ever mobile phone call was made by Motorola engineer Marty Cooper, on 3 April 1973, from New York’s Sixth Avenue.

Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, called Dr. Joel S. Engel, who was head of a rival company Bell Labs, and informed him that he was speaking from “a real handheld portable cell phone”.

That first mobile phone was known as the DynaTAC 8000x. It weighed 2.5 pounds, measured 10 inches long, and was soon nicknamed “the brick”. However, this moniker could not deflect from the importance of the device, which went on to transform the face of telecommunications.

Speaking to CommsMEA in 2010, Marty Cooper said that he was proud of the changes that mobile phones had made to society. “I feel that everywhere in the world, mobile phones are improving people’s productivity, making them safer and I do feel very good about that,” he said. “I feel very good about the potential for adding to the improvements in healthcare, education and things of that nature, and I don’t feel bad at all when people accuse me of causing traffic accidents and annoying people in theatres when phones ring.”


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