Who Invented the Cell Phone?

invented-cell-phone Credit: Wonderlane/CC-BY-2.0

Martin Cooper invented the cell phone in 1973 while he was general manager of Motorola's communications systems division. He placed the first wireless call to industry rival AT&T Bell Labs while standing on a street in New York City on April 3, 1973. He also called a radio station in New York City to alert the public of his technological achievement.

According to How Stuff Works, during the 1960s, engineers Joel S. Engel and Richard H. Frenkiel of Bell Labs developed the technology to support the first cellular network. While they were waiting for approval from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, Martin Cooper and his team at Motorola shocked these competitors by designing and using the first cell phone. Called the Motorola DynaTac, it weighed 2.5 pounds and was 9 inches long.

For the next 10 years, Martin Cooper and his team of engineers worked on the process of making the DynaTac available for widespread, commercial use. In 1983, Motorola began selling a smaller, 16-ounce version of the DynaTac for $3,500, according to Arraycomm, a wireless technology company that Martin Cooper later founded in 1992.

Arraycomm also states that it took seven years after the 1983 DynaTac launch for one million United States citizens to purchase a cellular phone and subscribe to the service.