A cell phone, cellular phone, mobile phone, cellphone, or sometimes shortened to mobile, phone, or just cell, is a portable and compact telephone that can present and receive calls over a radio frequency link, while the user travels within a telephone coverage area.
The definition above is known to us all, and we use our cellphones daily. What we will explore today is the history and evolution of this portable wonder.
The invention of the Cell phone
The concept of mobile phones has been around for a lot longer than the technology to support them was. As soon as basic landlines came into existence, modern humans had the idea of developing the support and adaptability of this new communication medium and taking it to new areas such as public transport and cars. Initially, cellular phones were little more than two-way portable radios, but as technology evolved, the concepts behind cell phones rapidly enhanced.
Motorola and Bell Labs were both involved in a climactic race to see who could design the first viable cellular phones. While Bell Labs had introduced innovative radio systems into police cars, these devices were way too large for anyone to carry around. They were thus ineffective as a genuinely mobile telephone. However, in 1973, Martin Cooper, a specialist working for Motorola, famously made the first-ever mobile phone call using a compact and portable handset. The year of the cellular phone was finally sorted, and who did he call? None other than his competitor at Bell Labs, Joel Engel, contended with him to formulate the invention.
Within a couple of years, both AT&T and Bell had come up with models of their own, and the initial trial areas were set up. Tokyo and Chicago were the first cities in the world where you could use a cell phone. Their availability was minimal, and the new telephones were only accessible to a select number of test customers to start with. For instance, the 1979 trial venture in Chicago issued cell phones to just 2000 customers.
The concept caught on like wildfire. By 1987, there were over 1 million mobile phone users in the Americas alone. It appeared as if everyone wanted a cell phone, and the corporations involved had hit a home run.
Evolution of Cellphones
GSM first originated in the late 1900s in Europe with the Orbitel TPU 900 first to market, but it wasn’t until 1992 that cellphones were no longer limited to business use. Mass production paved the way for cost-effective customer handsets with digital displays. Nokia was the first to take account of this transition, with the Nokia 1011 coming that year.
Although it only provided four colors, the Siemens S10 brought mobile phone images to life for the first time in 1997. The same year Hagenuk propelled the GlobalHandy, the first device without a surface aerial. Customization also emerged prominently, with Ericcson providing swappable colored front keyboard panels. The subsequent year Nokia unveiled a series of ‘Xpress-on’ interchangeable covers on the 5100 series, making it the first style orientated phone.
1999 saw Nokia launching the 7110, which was the first device to take account of WAP (a means of obtaining information over a mobile wireless network).
A year later, Sharp unveiled the world’s very 1st camera phone, the J-SH04. You could only buy it in Japan. However, it flagged the start of the public’s fascination with phone photography. However, it wasn’t until 2002 and the launch of the Sony Ericsson T68i and its clip-on camera that American markets started taking an interest in the camera phone.
The launch of 3G took download speeds up to 2MBS in March 2003 with “3” the first to offer the UK service. RIM produced a mobile email to the masses with its array of popular BlackBerry devices like the 8100 Pearl. The advent of front-facing cameras in 2003 on devices such as the Sony Ericsson Z1010 meant video calling became possible, but not userfriendly.
Swiping and scrolling substituted the old button method of input. The LG Prada was the first interactive touchscreen phone. It was only a few months later in 2007 that Apple came up with the game-changing iPhone.