History of the Mobile Phone

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We are all well accustomed to our all singing, all dancing mobile phones commonly referred to as smart phones, but how many of us remember what we had or even how we coped in times gone by, either without all this advanced technology that took the devices beyond just a calling phone or even worse without a device at all.

Many of us take for granted this technology that we now use so readily but around 30 years ago none of this was even possible. The journey between then and now is barely comprehendible but this article seeks to look at that timeline.

The early days

The first mobile phone was made by Motorola costing around £2000 the equivalent of nearly double this in current times. When Martin Cooper first worked out the technology we still use now, many years before, he used his first call to call his rival who was also looking into creating a mobile phone cellular system. Most likely this was to claim bragging rights.  The first phone to hit the market however weighed 2 ½ pounds, was over 10” long and barely lasted 20 minutes before it needed to be recharged for nearly a day before it could be reused.

first mobile phone

This is why many of our first mobile phones were attached to a car, hooking it up to the cars battery to ensure constant charge. The phone was dubbed as the first portable phone but it was unlikely that anyone would have been able to fit the phone (pictured above) in any sort of normal pocket.

The next addition came to the UK for sale in 1987 but at a cost of £1200 was still seen as a luxury reserved for the rich and famous. This time the phone had just over 30 minutes of talk time and was still far from portable needing a large aerial to reach signal.

history of mobile phone

The emergence of new brands

Following this we started to see the emergence of the brand that to myself and many others epitomised the sharp mobile phone growth through the 90’s and into the early 2000’s, Nokia. The first of their phones are not quite what we may remember them for however. Their first dip into the mobile industry was not of the revolutionary devices that followed.

history of mobile phone

It wasn’t until the late 90’s that we started to see phones that were produced for mass market but from the early 90’s aerials were becoming smaller and designers were starting to think about the look of the phone rather than just its ability to make a call. Alongside this competition was starting to grow with Orange and One2One in the UK and a big company still known for its mobile’s today starting to come through from abroad, Ericsson, this in turn started to bring down the prices to an affordable price point.  These more aesthetically pleasing phones became known as the candy bars.

 history of mobile phone

More than just a phone

Texting is so commonplace today that you could be forgiven for not remembering how you communicated before it existed but it wasn’t until 1992 that the first text was ever sent and even that needed to be sent on a PC because mobiles at that point did not have a keyboard.

Nokia, again leading the way was the first company to support text messaging on its phone but it wasn’t until 1997 that this became possible when they featured a keyboard in their phones and they really came into their own. The one pictured below particularly catapulted Nokia into the top position of phone manufacturer of choice after it was featured in the matrix film.

history of mobile phone

Mass market phones

In 1999 Nokia’s most popular phone was released the 3210. 160 million of these were sold during its time on Sale with a further 133 million for its updated version the 3310. It was also the first phone of which you could send picture messages on although these were preinstalled images like a birthday cake. Many remember this as their first mobile phone as it was the first to really sell in mass numbers and the phone that meant them spending many hours on the phone game snake.

 history of mobile phones

Things quickly accelerated from here with manufacturers starting to look at colour technology which first appeared in stores in 2001. Not till 2002 did there come the first phones to feature a camera built in from the company Sanyo. However this camera could only take photos with 0.1 megapixels, far less than what we are used to today where many use an all in one phone rather than a separate camera.

history of mobile phones

From this point onwards companies started to play around with the devices putting various keyboards in, experimenting with flip phones and slowly starting to look into incorporating phones into PDA systems enabling you to send and receive emails and data.

In 2004 phones started to get a fashion make over courtesy of the Motorola Razr with phones increasingly becoming sleeker and thinner with developing camera and limited internet capabilities.

 history of mobile phones

Rise of the Smart Phone and the internet

In 2007 came the revolution which started off the smart phone market with Steve Jobs first iPhone. It was a revolutionary touchscreen device unlike anything that had been previously seen where users could download 1000’s of applications, whilst accessing things like your iTunes library, and your emails.

2007 was also the year when text messaging over took voice calls with more people choosing the instant typing tool as their preferred method of communication.

history of mobile phones

Shortly after this saw the incorporation of 3g into devices, the technology that allowed people to download applications and browse the internet at much faster speeds. As this was developing as were Apple competitors with Google creating its android platform allowing companies like Samsung to develop similarly operating phones.

history of mobile phones

Since then technology has increased fourfold with the recent launch of the 4g network. Phones are further developing with amazing cameras that rival advanced standalone cameras, amazing speeds, technology and features within the operating systems including applications.  As of last year Apple users had downloaded a staggering 25 Billion applications from its app stall with many billion more from the Google play store.

history of mobile phones

We are not sure where the next 20 plus years are going to take us and judging by the previous 20’s progression we would not be able to even begin to guess. No doubt at some point our current phones will look outdated and old and we will wonder why we ever owned it in the first place. We do know that we will look forward to what new and developing technology has to offer. With Android News seemingly trying to outdo Apple, who knows what the mobile phones of the future will hold.

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  5. The Self-Made Tech Revolution

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