Jun
9
2009

Who invented the Cell Phone

Cellphones, also called mobile phones, are an invention that in the late 1990s and into the 2nd millennium have become so ubiquitous many people can’t imagine life without them anymore. Cell phones work wirelessly using radio waves to communicate with a tower that transfers the call to the network, and then to the phone of the other party.

The idea of using towers arranged in a cellular pattern with each only handling a small area of the total number of subscribers has been around since after the second world war. The technology however didn’t exist to create a cellular network that would allow subscribers to move from tower to tower automatically, and a system of calling a specific phone didn’t exist either, so until the 1960s most mobile calls were operated like two way radios.

amos joel Who invented the Cell Phone

In 1956 Ericsson, Sweden’s major telecommunications company and one of the world’s largest, invented the first fully automatic phone system that could be used away from normal telephone infrastructure. The system eventually had 125 subscribers in Stockholm and Gothenburg but hasn’t been considered a precursor to modern cell phones because the system was still more like a two way radio system.

In 1970, a breakthrough occurred when Amos Joel of Bell Labs invented a system he called “call handoff” that allowed phones to maintain an active call when traveling from tower to tower, and this invention, whilst often under appreciated by some historians, is in fact the most significant invention in the history of the cell phone because for the first time portable phones became truly mobile, capable of roaming many miles outside the range of the original tower.

various cell phones Who invented the Cell Phone

Competition in the mobile radio market was intense in the US during the 1960s, and resulted in one of the most amusing anecdotes of the history of cell phones occurring in 1973 after a period of development at Motorola. A prototype cell phone was invented by a research team led by Martin Cooper. In a game of one-up-manship Cooper tested their prototype cell phone by calling Amos Joel over at Bell Labs to let him know that Bell had lost the race to produce the first cell phone. At the time Cooper was standing in a New York street and was witnessed by a group of reporters specially invited to the event.

Whilst Martin Cooper has been described as the inventor of the cell phone, he was actually the Motorola’s director of research and development, and shares the honor with a team f engineers who were also mentioned in Motorola’s patent for a radio telephone system.

Learn about the complete history of cell phones.



About the Author:

Sam Reese is a web enthusiasts and blogger. He is a history student and loves to write and read histories of different things.

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