The ability to quickly, seamlessly, and effectively communicate across large distances on a wireless phone is an incredible invention that has improved the lives of millions across the world. The advent of the mobile phone, however, began simply as an addition to cars. Instead of being entirely mobile, the phones were connected to automobiles, as they required a significant source of power and were too bulky to be carried around.
In June of 1946, the mobile phone first appeared in an automobile, and was powered by AT&T. However, this phone only worked in certain urban areas, and the system could only handle a handful of calls at once. So, if other people were using the service, your phone would not work. Additionally, the calls had to be managed and put through by a human operator. Clearly, not an ideal setup for a mobile phone. Thus, only about 30,000 calls per week were completed at first. AT&T continued to make improvements, but each time demand for the service outpaced the technology. In order for mobile phones to continue to be successful, a serious upgrade in technology was needed.
It wasn't until the 1970s that the technology for mobile cellular phones developed to a point where they no longer had to be connected to cars or a local operator system. In April of 1973, a Motorola researcher, Martin Cooper, made the first phone call on a handheld mobile device. This phone was much larger than its modern counterparts, weighing nearly 2.5 pounds, but the all went through and ushered in a new age of cellular phone technology.
The new generation of mobile phones have gone through several generations of improvements to meet the standards of today. The first generation of truly mobile phones took 10 hours to charge, but only lasted for 30 minutes! The second generation of mobile phones, introduced first in the 1990s, could last longer on a single charge as well as gained several features more common today such as a pager, PDA, calculator, and other standard mobile phone features. These phones were much smaller and also were the first ones with a QWERTY keyboard that could send and receive text messages.
The second generation of phones were the first to be used on a daily basis. Thus, more features, like the ability to browse the internet, were demanded by consumers. The third generation of mobile phones were developed to do just this! The introduction of 3G phones spread like wildfire, and by 2007 there were over 295 million cellular phone subscribers worldwide. By the 2010s it became clear that more advanced technology would be needed to keep up with the demand of cell phones and what they could do. Consequently, the fourth generation of mobile phones was created, which allowed for a broader use of the internet and more featured common on modern phones today.
Overall, cell phones have come a long way from being restricted to cars and certain geographical locations. And, because of their importance in our daily lives, we can only predict what types of technological advancements our phones will have in the fifth generation and beyond.