Cell phones have progressed to become an important aspect of modern civilization. We live for our mobile devices, whether we’re messaging, browsing the web, scrolling through social media, playing a video game, or really using the gadget for what it was designed for talking on the phone. You’d be hard pushed to find anyone without one these days, and young children are being given cell phones at an ever-increasing age. Cell phones are the key enablers of a global society that is always linked, and they are ardent supporters of where the art of socialization is headed in the future. So, how did we end up in this situation? How did cell phones become such an integral part of daily life? Let’s get this party started.


The history of the cell phones


AT&T launched the Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) Network in 1949, which was the first cell phone network in the United States. Because these early phones used radio networks and required a user to place a call through an operator rather than calling the person on the other end, they were more like walkie-talkies than mobile phones.

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For a variety of reasons, the first phones did not take off. They were unbelievably hefty, to begin with. Their equipment weighed about 80 pounds. That doesn’t appear to be very mobile. Furthermore, at the time, there were only three radio channels allocated to cell phone use, each of which could only accommodate one phone call at a time, making it difficult to contact someone. Finally, these out-of-date walkie-talkies were costly. They cost $15 a month, plus $0.30 to $0.40 each time you make a call, on top of the device’s initial cost. When the fees are adjusted for inflation, they come to $176 per month and $3.50-$4.75 each call, which is more than most mobile plans today.

AT&T, on the other hand, did not abandon its MTS service. They reintroduced a revised version in 1965, appropriately dubbed the Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS). Additional radio channels for making calls, lighter hardware, and the elimination of the requirement for an operator were among the enhancements. Despite their best efforts, IMTS failed to gain traction, owing in part to the radio channels’ restrictions. Users in New York City, for example, who numbered 2,000 at the time, had to share only 12 radio channels, making calls difficult and often impossible.


The original cellular phone concept was presented by two Bell Lab engineers, Douglas H. King and W. Rae Young, in 1947. Their plan was to deploy hexagonal cell technology in vehicle-based mobile phones. Their proposal was unique, but the technology to implement it did not yet exist. Technology hadn’t progressed far enough for Bell Labs to reexamine King and Young’s concept until nearly two decades later. Meanwhile, as Bell Labs labored to develop cellular technology, similar concepts were being developed and implemented around the world.

The history of the cell phones


The first-generation analogue cellular network, or 1G, was introduced in Tokyo, Japan, in 1979 for use with car phones. The DynaTAC 8000X mobile phone was released on Ameritech, the country’s first 1G network, in 1983, bringing the technology to the United States. By 1990, technology had progressed enough to allow for the development of a speedier cellular network based on digital wireless transmission, and thus 2G was born. 2G was the very first iteration of what we now know as contemporary networks. The 2G standard was quickly adopted. The GSM network became popular in Europe, whereas the CDMA network was widely used in the United States. 2G was far superior to its predecessor, and its widespread acceptance resulted in a mobile market explosion.

Cell phone capabilities evolved in tandem with the technology that powered them, and the first SMS, or text message, was transmitted in 1992. SMS was a commonly utilized means of texting by the millennium’s turn. In 1999, phones obtained the ability to access the internet, which was a game-changer for the cellular sector. This development eventually led to the development of 3G, which was based on mobile broadband and made surfing the internet much faster. 3G was first introduced in Japan in 2001, and other countries, including the United States, quickly embraced it. The people embraced it when cell phones started to become much more than just phones. By 2007, 3G networks had connected 295 million users.


The year 2007 served as the catalyst for the cellular market’s major transformation. That was the year Apple debuted its first iPhone, heralding the start of what would become the smartphone revolution. The iPhone was the trigger that set the stage for what we now know as cell phones. Ironically, Apple first released the phone in conjunction with an exclusive arrangement with AT&T, which was the first to do so in 1949.

The history of the cell phones

In 2009, the advancement of cellular technologies, combined with customer demand for increasingly sophisticated smartphones, gave birth to a 4th generation network based on individual local IP addresses. In essence, 4G enabled cell phones to function as true personal computers. Today, much of the globe uses an improved LTE version of 4G, but 5G, which began a worldwide deployment in 2019, is gradually becoming more prevalent.


Mobile technology is on the verge of breaking through to a new level. As technology advances, our digital devices become more and more integrated into our daily lives. Apple, Samsung, and Google are attempting to monetize to a larger extent on our reliance on our smartphones and other devices by blurring the line between where the human ends and the technology begins. Apple, in particular, is reported to be working on glasses with both AR and VR technology that will be just as powerful as their latest MacBooks. Furthermore, speculations say that Apple’s ultimate goal for these glasses is to completely replace the iPhone with them. And, given those flying cars and self-driving trucks are now a reality, it’s not far-fetched to imagine that we’ll be making phone calls and performing computing activities with a device that sits on the rim of our noses.