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21.7.14

30 Years Of The Mobile Phone


Nice brick, mateyboots! The DynaTAC 8000x - the very first hand-held cell phone on the market. The year? 1984!

Crikey! Go back thirty-one years to 1983 and you couldn't have owned a cell phone - and had probably never even dreamt of such a thing! Weird, eh?

Motorola unveiled the first hand-held cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x in '83, but it wasn't commercially available until 13 March 1984! And it was a brick. Cellular technology had taken decades of research, Motorola had been involved since 1968, but it wasn't until 1973 that a test call was made on an even larger prototype phone (nicknamed "the boot"!). The "boot" was not designed for marketing.

"The first [phones] we made were a research product," recalls Rudy Krollop, Motorola designer. "The [first prototype] DynaTAC wasn't designed to be manufactured and mass produced. Plus, the FCC was giving us all kinds of problems, so to design something we could manufacture sucked up 10 years. We were very busy."

Several prototypes were made between 1973 and 1983 and then... bingo! Of course, here in England, you couldn't have got involved in the fun of wielding a brick until 1985 - the first UK cellphone call was made on 1st January that year - by comedian Ernie Wise.

Mr Yuppie proudly wields his brick in 1985.

Expensive, hefty things ("yuppie toys"!) and horribly analogue, they were still the start of a revolution. Of course, analogue was rather naff when it came to reception at times, but fear not - the 1980s had things in hand. The GSM system we currently use had been in development since 1982, and received approval in 1987. It was implemented in the 1990s.

Love 'em or hate 'em? I'm not that mad on 'em myself, although they DO have their uses.

But sometimes I wish it was 1983.

Rucked-up shoulder pads and a lovely mobile - all the rage for the yuppie set of the mid-to-late 1980s.

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