News | 03 Apr 2023

First-ever mobile phone call made 50 years ago today

The mobile phone revolution was ignited on a street corner in New York City, with a cheeky call to a rival, after years of research.

The first-ever mobile phone call was made on 3 April 1973, by Motorola engineer Marty Cooper, while standing on the corner of Sixth Avenue in New York City. He rang a rival at Bell Laboratories, who had been endeavouring to build a car-based mobile phone, to triumphantly tell him that he was calling from “a personal, handheld, portable cell phone”.

Cooper’s goal, in his own words, was “something that would represent an individual, so you could assign a number not to a place, not to a desk, not to a home, but to a person.”

A version of Cooper’s ground-breaking prototype mobile phone would eventually go on sale to the public as the Motorola DynaTac 8000X – the infamous ‘brick phone’ of the 1980s. That phone weighed a chonky 790g, had 30 minutes of talk time and took 10 hours to charge the battery! A Motorola DynaTac 8000X is part of the collection at the Mobile Phone Museum, sponsored by Vodafone.

World’s most extensive mobile phone museum to launch in November with Vodafone as long-term partner

The museum has more than 2,000 unique handsets from 200 different manufacturers charting the evolution of mobile phones from 1984 to the present day, but the curators are still hunting for rare and iconic devices.

What Cooper couldn’t predict is how mobile phones would eventually become pocket-sized computers, capable of so much more in addition to making calls, from gaming to taking photos. Vodafone has been a part of this revolution, sending the first SMS message, making the first UK mobile phone call, and first to roll out 4G and 5G in various hard-to-reach places across the UK. 🥚

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