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The Rise and Rise of the Mobile Phone: A Historic Guide

By Edited Jan 16, 2014 0 0

It’s technology that we can’t live without. The mobile phone has come a long way in the last 30 years reaching the point where it isn’t just a vital accessory to have, it’s crucial to the functioning of modern society.

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, way back in the 1870’s, the devices have gotten smaller, more powerful and mobile. It’s always interesting to see how technology has changed over the years; and for some, collecting these technological antiques is something of a hobby. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how the humble mobile phone has developed to what we know it as today.


Dr. Martin Cooper, a researcher and executive from Motorola was one of the earliest pioneers of mobile technology, and is generally considered to be the inventor of the first mobile phone for handheld use. After a race with Bell Labs to be the first, Dr. Cooper came out on top. Weighing more than two pounds, the price tag was a whopping $3,995, and received the nickname ‘the brick’.

In a humorous end to the battle for the first ever mobile phone, Dr. Cooper made his first call on the 3rd April 1973 to his rival Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bells Labs. However it wasn’t until another 10 years later, after numerous developments that the mobile phone would be commercially available.     


On March 6th 1983, after years of developments and $100 million invested, the DynaTAC was released by Motorola. Throughout the eighties, the DynaTAC series dominated the mobile phone market. Today it is seen as an iconic symbol of the 1980’s with its chunky casing and huge aerial.

The first model was the 8000x, which offered a measly thirty minutes of talk time, with a modest standby time of eight hours. After this, several other models followed including 8000s. Updates occurred right up to 1994 with the Ultra Classic II. 


Whilst the 1980’s used a 1G network, which eventually was picked up worldwide by countries outside the US, including UK, Canada and Mexico, the 1990’s saw the development of a 2G network. The move sparked a flurry of activity in the mobile phone market as many different operators challenged to be the top dog, taking over the existing 1G network operators.

During this change, mobile phone hardware moved away from larger brick type models to much smaller hand-held devices, weighing 100-200g. The change in design was as a result of technological improvements, such as longer-lasting batteries and more advanced electronic components. The biggest development with 2G was the advent of SMS or text messaging. Motorola were still a big player in the market releasing phones like the StarTac in 1996, but towards the end of the 1990’s, Nokia were emerging as a huge commercial player with the 6110 (1998) and the 3210 (1999). 


3G cellular technology was launched in Japan in early 2001. Once again, this paved the way for a greater amount of information to be shared, allowing the market to expand as mobile phone providers filled the market. Nokia continued to be commercially successful, as did Motorola with their Razr v3 (2004). Another notable phone of the era included the Sanyo SCP-5300 (2002).

The noughties were a decade filled with wonderful mobile inventions, all trying to corner a specific market. From PDA’s to early incarnations of smartphones, there were small, tall, thin and fat devices perfect for a variety of markets, but mainly the business ones. Blackberry’s started to become popular, the 5810 (2002) epitomised the exciting developments as it had organiser features, email capabilities and a thumb keyboard.

Advancements in technology saw manufacturers integrating a range of other features, including cameras, Internet browsing capabilities and touchscreens.  This improved functionality opened the door to wider usage and helped to make mobiles one of the most popular accessories for consumers around the world. 


The mobile phone market is now dominated with Smartphones. It’s believed that one of the first ever smartphones was the Kyocera QCP6035, which hit the retail market in early 2001. It featured just 8MB of memory and came with a very basic and bland monochrome display, but it paved the way for future models from manufacturers such as Apple, HTC and Samsung. Thanks to the evolution of mobile Internet, mobile phones are literally getting smarter (hence the name).

The Apple iPhone dominates the current smartphone market today, with all of its functions and capabilities. It does leave us begging the question, where do we go from here? With Mobile phones experiencing such a meteoritic rise in such a short space of time, who knows what we will be using in the next 5 or 10 years. 



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