Before 1973, if you wanted to make a phone call while roving around, you had two choices—either you got yourself a pair of tin cans tied together with a taut length of string, or you drove a car with a telephone built in. But all that changed on April 3rd of that year, when Martin Cooper, a Motorola executive, made the first hand-held cell-phone call. The guy he rang was his rival at Bell Labs.
Cooper’s phone weighed in at just below 2.5 lbs. Its battery allowed a half-hour of use, and then, 10 hours of recharging later, it would be ready for a chat again. It would be another six years before the launch of the first—1G—cellular network, and then only in the center of Tokyo. By 1984, the network had expanded sufficiently to cover the whole of Japan.
More 1G networks emerged and took hold across the world throughout the 1980s, including, in 1983, the United States . That same year saw the launch of Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000X handset, developed at a cost of $100 million. The price tag? For you, $3,995. And there was a waiting list.
It looked like a brick, and a brick is what people called it. Yet, massive though it might seem to modern eyes, in 1983 it was a portable miracle that ushered in a new era.