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The first phone call with a cellular device was made by Martin Cooper, a former vice president of Motorola, in 1973. The inventor conceptualized a cell phone that wouldn’t be chained to the car. Rather, it would be portable. The result? The DynaTAC (Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) phone, which was 23 cm tall and weighed 1.1 kg.

Now, 50 years later, the inventor says he’s “devastated” when he sees people staring at their phones while crossing the street. “They are out of their minds,” he added in an interview with the AFP News Agency.

But who exactly is he, where’s he now, and exactly how did he invent one of the most important gadgets of all time? Read on to know.

How Martin Cooper invented the cellphone

When AT&T proposed a cellular architecture to expand its car-phone service, Motorola feared that the telecom company would grow into a monopoly. Martin Cooper was placed in charge of the urgent project to develop a cellphone. The result was DynaTAC (Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage), which allowed 35 minutes of talk time before it ran out of battery.

Cooper showed off the first cellphone to rival AT&T

On April 3, 1973, Cooper introduced the DynaTAC phone at a press conference in New York. To make sure that the phone was working before the start of the event, he rang engineer Joel Engel, head of AT&T’s rival project, announced he was calling from a portable cellphone.

The first commercial cellphone was a success despite the steep price tag

DynaTAC8000X The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. (Image: Redrum0486/Wikipedia)

After years of development, Motorola in 1983 introduced the first portable cellphone for consumers, the DynaTAC 8000x. Despite the steep price tag of $3,995, the phone was a success.

Cooper has 11 patents to his name

Martin Cooper is also a pioneer in the wireless communications industry, especially in radio spectrum management, with 11 patents in the field.

Cooper formulated a law

Cooper observed that since 1895, when Guglielmo Marconi made his first radio transmissions, the capacity to send multiple and simultaneous radio signals in the same location has increased steadily. This observation led him to propose the Law of Spectral Efficiency, or Cooper’s Law. The law states that the maximum number of voice conversations or equivalent data transactions that can be conducted in all of the useful radio spectrum over a given area doubles every 30 months.

Cooper is Dyna LLC’s chairman

Cooper is currently chairman of Dyna LLC and a member of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council. Dync LLC is located in Del Mar, California.

Cooper fought in the Korean War

Cooper after graduating from IIT or Illinois Institute of Technology in 1950 went to the Korean War. He enlisted himself as a submarine officer in Naval Reverses of the US.

Cooper developed handheld radios before inventing the cellphone

Martin’s first job was at Teletype Corporation located in Chicago. He left his job in 1954 and eventually worked as a senior development engineer at Motorola Inc. located in Schaumburg, Ill. Here, he worked on developing the first handheld radios made for the Chicago Police Department in 1967. He went on to lead Motorola’s cellular research.


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