Mobile phone is 40 years old today, turns quadragenarian

Had it happened 48 hours earlier, the first mobile phone call might have been mistaken for being a prank call instead.

Indeed, Martin Cooper, then a senior telecoms engineer at Motorola, made a call, on 3 April 1973, to someone at a rival company, AT&T, to tell him that he was on a “real cellular telephone” (as opposed to fake ones), that was a prototype of the DynaTAC (Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage)

The Brick as it was commonly known was popularised by movies such as Wall Street where Gordon Gekko, played by a flamboyant Michael Douglas, proved to be the perfect onscreen salesman for the device.

Cooper, who is considered by many to be the father of the cell phone, went on to found a number of companies and has even a “law” named after him (Cooper’s Law or the law of Spectral Efficiency). The first mobile phones cost more than £2,000 when they eventually made it to the market in 1983 and 30 years later, you can get basic models for as little as £1.

Motorola went on to become a mobile phone company before half of it (Motorola Mobility) being acquired by Google, the creator of Android, the most popular smartphone platform globally with more than 750 million activations.

As for mobile phones, there are probably more of them now than there are human beings on the planet with users in mature markets likely to have two or more. Its latest iteration, the smartphone, is likely to take over the traditional PC as the main computing device for many.