When Were Cell Phones Invented

When were cell phones invented? While your earliest memories of the technology may date back to the early 90s when Zack Morris made outgoing calls from his desk on a cartoonish, huge cell phone on the Saturday morning TV show, "Saved by the Bell," the technology actually dates back much further and unfolds over a period of several decades:

1940s
It's hard to trace technology back to an exact date, as all inventions are built upon innovations of the past. However, the earliest cell phone predecessor can be traced back to 1947, when scientists were working on a way of making phone calls from a vehicle. While the range of these phones was limited to a single cell, researchers realized the importance of the technology and lobbied the FCC to reserve frequencies for the development of future advancements.

1970s
The first true cellular phone was created by Martin Cooper in 1973 for the Motorola company. With the development of hexagonal cells, which could bounce a cellular signal from tower to tower, portable phones could be carried in and out of cells for long-distance trips. It still took some time for the technology to get off the ground, though, because cell phones were expensive and bulky.

1980s
In 1983, AT&T set up the first cellular system in Chicago. It was the first successful trial run of a cellular network, and it supported 2,000 mobile phone users. However, the original cell phones were still impractical for the average consumer.

The Cell Phone Today
By the 1990s, cell phone companies worked to reduce their size and cost drastically. Today, cell phones can do much more than just make phone calls. Cell phone software enables users to play video games, download music and even surf the Internet. If you thought that Mr. Belding had his hands full in 1990, imagine if Zach Morris had an iPhone at his disposal.

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