For a comprehensive version of the evolution of cell phones via a visual presentation (for selected notable models), visit our gallery.
Nowadays, almost all people communicate through cell phones. It is hard to believe that about twenty years ago cell phones were a rarity and confined to what were better known as brick phones owing to their size and shape.
Research and development of cellular technology can be dated to as far back as 1843 when a chemist by the name of Michael Faraday began exhaustive research into whether space could conduct electricity. Faraday's discoveries have had an incalculable effect toward cellular phone development. This idea then allowed Dr. Mahlon Loomis of Virginia, a dentist, to be the first person to communicate through wireless via the atmosphere in 1865.
Radio technology was further promoted in the late 1960s with Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel of Dell Labs, aiming to create portable handheld police radios for the Chicago Police Department, America. While the idea of a 'mobile' phone existed since then, they could only make calls within a central base, therefore were predominantly employed in vehicles.
In the 1960s, mobile phone technology became available, but was still restricted to base stations and cell areas, hence unable to support stability of phone calls from an area to another, without disconnecting.
Only in the 1980s, were the first generation of cellphones - brick phones - introduced. Also, through these twenty years of incessant improvements from the early 1980s till today, we are now witnessing the prime of cellphones with innovation of the smart phones with PDA capabilities which are outstandingly small with the most advanced technologies which allow the cellphone to operate like a computer.
So how did today's cellphones come about?
Dr. Martin Cooper, known as the father of the cell phone, set up a base station in New York with the first working prototype of a cellular telephone in 1973. Mr. Cooper and Motorola took the phone technology of the Motorola Dyna-Tac to New York to show the public.
1977-79: Public cellphone testing began, first in Chicago and then in other cities of USA. Japan joined the testing service afterwards.
1983: Motorola introduced the Dyna-Tac phone into commercial service with each phone costing the consumer $3,500. It took seven additional years before there were a million subscribers in the United States.
1989: Motorola MicroTAC 9800x was the first pocket-sized cellphone which employed a slim, flip-phone design, still being emulated today.
1991: Advent of the second generation of cellphones with GSM networks and a divergence from the larger phones models.
1993: Text-messaging became the trend and most helpful tool of communication, in particular among youths.
1996: Motorola's Startac introduced vibrations to notify users of incoming messages and calls. Toshiba also releases the world's first internal antenna cellphone, giving rise to more popularity attributed to their improved design.
1999: The Nokia 7110 is the pioneering smartphone of that time, which allowed for WAP, Internet access and infrared. However, as you probably have already realized, these functions have now become the norm.
2000: Now in their third generation, the first in-built camera phone is produced by a j-phone, originating from Japan. In the same year, Nokia 3210 introduces T9 predictive text (dictionary) ability to facilitate texting.
2002: While arguably not the first, Sony Ericsson announces the first commercialised colored screen cellphone.
2002-05: Danger Hiptop, Treo and Blackberry are just a few of the many smartphones which revolutionised how PDAs worked with extraordinary technology, features and organisers.
2008: iPhone 3G became an instant hit as the first phone which can be fully controlled via a touch screen and comes with additional functions, which differ from the traditional camera and music player, such as third party applications, maps and Safari browser.
1.Maria on a history of wireless phones from the dynaTAC to iPhone. (19th March 2009)
2.Device Daily on the history of mobile phones. (19th March 2009)
3. The Carphone Warehouse for mobile phone history article. (19th March 2009)