Today, we can live without food for a day but not without a mobile phone. There is no doubt that the mobile/cell phone has had tremendous impact on our lives than any other technology. Can you imagine a life without your smart phone that allows you to browse web, send messages, check your e-mails, take photographs, play your favorite music, find out your location if you are lost and also make a telephone call?
A mobile phone (also known as a cellular phone, a cell phone and a hand phone) is a “telephone” device that can send and receive telephone calls over a “radio link” around a wide geographical area. Your mobile phone is connected to a cellular network, provided by a mobile phone service provider, which in-turn is connected to a public telephone network (PSTN).
It all began when Alexander Graham Bell invented the “telephone” in 1876. In the early 1890s, Charles Stevenson developed a radio communication system to communicate with the lighthouses off the shore. However, in 1894, Marconi succeeded in developing a radio system that could transmit a signal over a stretch of 2 Km. In 1902, telegraphed letter “S” was sent from England to Newfoundland and this was the first successful radiotelegraph “wireless” message. In 1906, Fessenden broadcasted music over the radio.
Wireless communication involves sending and receiving of information through air or space using electromagnetic waves, at different frequencies, which include radio waves, infrared rays and microwaves. The pioneer of wireless telecommunications is Al Gross, who invented the walkie-talkie, which is the first radio communication device. He patented them in 1938. Walkie-talkies are the first radio communication device that was used for military purposes during the Second World War, and eventually spread for commercial use after the war. But they operate only in a close proximity. Invention of walkie-talkie has led to the invention of Citizen’s Band (CB) radio, also called as car radio phones, used mainly in taxis, and then to telephone “pagers”, which was a very early form of one-way text messaging. The mobile phone was the next logical development of both the car radio telephone service and personal mobile radios.
Motorola is the pioneer in wireless technology. Years of experience in engineering two-way radio systems led to Motorola's vision of personal, portable communication devices. The result was the world's first commercial portable cellular phone. Motorola introduced the world's first commercial portable cellular phone in the year 1984 - DynaTAC, the Brick Phone. It was the device that ushered in the mobile phone era that has come to define who we are today. Since then, the cell phones have changed a lot; advancement in technology has transformed the huge brick-sized mobile phones to credit card sized sleek iPhones that we carry now. Mobile phone technology evolved from First generation (1G) - an analog cellular network, to second generation (2G) – digital cellular networks, to the third generation (3G) broadband data services and finally fourth generation (4G) - high speed IP networks.
I must say that I was lucky enough to be in the United States of America during the golden times (in 1990s). I hence had an opportunity to work for the world’s most prestigious company, the AT&T Bell Labs where the inventors of “Telephone”, “Transistors”, “UNIX and C”, “C++” and other great inventors worked. I also have seen the technology evolving over time, starting from mainframes to MS-DOS to Windows, internet to World Wide Web, analog telephone to cellular phones, etc.
"Al Gross, Inventor of the Walkie-Talkie." Inventor of the Week Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 15 November 2004, <http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/gross.htm>.