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October 14, 2023

Pictures of the First Cell Phone

On April 3, 1973, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper stood on a New York City street and punched in a number into a device that looked like a futuristic prop from a space odyssey or a sci-fi movie. He rang a rival at rival firm Bell Laboratories and announced that he had just made the world's first public call from a handheld mobile phone.

The prototype he used, called the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, weighed more than a kilogram and was over nine inches long. It could take 10 hours to charge for 30 minutes of talk time. Mr Cooper envisioned a future in which phones would be personal devices, connecting users directly to each other rather than to their cars or offices. "It's about being able to reach someone anywhere at any time," he said in a 2007 interview with the Mobile History Museum in Philadelphia.

By the turn of the century, manufacturers were shrinking the phones and adding cameras to them. The Nokia 3310 was one of the most popular models at the time. It was shaped like a brick and featured a keyboard, but its popularity helped change the way people thought of cell phones.

Today, clicking a picture on a mobile phone and sharing it with friends in real time is so commonplace that we barely notice that it wasn't always like this. But that's not to say that we won't have some more surprising innovations in the future.