Mobile phone turns 40 with 29 million in use in Australia

Martin Cooper made history when in April 1973 he made the first phone call from a mobile phone
Martin Cooper made history when in April 1973 he made the first phone call from a mobile phone

THE 40th anniversary of the mobile phone passed by quietly yesterday, with no celebration for the device which has become an integral part of modern society.

On April 3, 1973, Motorola engineer and general manager of the communications systems division Martin Cooper talked his way into the history books by becoming the first person to make a call on a handheld cell phone in public.

Dr Cooper lifted the relatively enormous Motorola DynaTAC to his ear while standing on Sixth Ave, New York, to place a call that would be remembered as the debut of mobile communications.

In an interview with technology website The Verge, last year, Dr Cooper said the call was to Bell Labs rival Joel Engler, who was also working to pioneer mobile technology.

"Joel, this is Marty. I'm calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone," he said.

Gawking New Yorkers were inevitably curious and many would have tuned in to witness the DynaTAC's announcement at a press conference soon after.

The DynaTAC cost about $4000, weighed nearly a kilogram, had 35 minutes of talk-time and a battery life of 20 minutes, which was considered a stunning achievement at the time.

Today's smart phones offer a wide variety of functions, including text messaging, browsing the internet and snapping photos, all of which are often taken for granted.

And the DynaTAC's debut, marked by a simple phone call, was the crucial beginning of the communication revolution.

According to independent researcher BuddeComm there is an estimated 29 million mobile phones in Australia, despite our population of only 23 million.

Topics:  mobile phones

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