The Progression of Cell Phones
Since the middle of the last century, engineers have been trying to find that Holy Grail in mobile communication – a hand held phone device not tethered to any wires. Remember the Bat Phone? That rotary phone in Batman’s Bat mobile? Although some companies have developed phone devices that are car-based, none were what you can call mobile. It all came into reality in 1973 when Motorola engineer Martin Cooper the first real cell phone call to his rival Joel Engels, an engineer at Bell Labs.
It was not until a decade later that infrastructure for a cellular network was completed based on the analog 1G system. Motorola then introduced the first cell phone – the DynaTAC cellular phone. It was affectionately called the “Brick” due to its design and weight of about 2 pounds. At that weight, customers needed weight training in order to carry these phones around with them all day. To own one, you had to shell around $4,000. In 1989 Motorola released the MicroTAC, the first flip phone. It utilized a hinged design, thereby reducing the size and weight and can be carried in a person’s jacket.
The 90’s saw the emergence of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), or 2G, spectrum which ushered in the era of digital communication. In 1992 Motorola introduced the International 3200, the first digital handheld phone. Nokia soon followed with its Nokia 101, a bar type cell phone that sports an LCD screen.
Throughout the 90’s, competition was primarily between Nokia and Motorola. Although up to this point, cell phones were primarily used only for talking. What they tried to do was to come out with designs that appealed to the customers. Motorola concentrated on their hinged design and came out with clamshell models such as the StarTAC.
Nokia, on the other hand, started the much desired candy bar series of cell phones like the Nokia 3100 series, 3300, and the 5100. They also introduced models that were instant hits like the Nokia 8100. Nokia’s foray into the smartphone began with the Nokia Communicator 9000 and the 9110i.
With 3G, cell phones started to integrate web browsing capabilities, albeit mostly in text only forms and using WAP technology. Cell phones started to integrate the functionalities of a Personal Digital Assistant. Foremost among these were the Blackberry series from RIM.
During this decade, the cell phone began to emerge as an accessory to a person’s personality. This decade also saw the total acceptance to the concept of text messaging. Cell phones began arriving with quirky QWERTY keyboard designs that makes text messaging easier.
Although touchscreen phones, such as the Erickson P800, were already in the market, the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2008 saw a complete shift in the acceptance of the consumer on what a cell phone should be. It sported a touch screen that covers the entire face of the cell phone, there were no keys and apps were introduced to add functionalities to your device. Pretty soon, other manufacturers such as Samsung started introducing cell phones that have similar technologies.
Today, cell phones have more computing power than computers of the 90’s and are starting to replace certain gadgets that were deemed important in the past. Shrinking sizes, shrinking prices and more functionalities are what sells cell phone today.