Some Pre-history of the Mobile Phone

In 1949 there was a group called MTS, Mobile Telephone Service, in the USA. They had about 500 customers who paided a day’s earning to use a portable (mobile) telephone weighing 36kg. There were only three channels available (i.e.: three calls possible at the same time) and the system was simplex – customers pressed a button to speak and released it to listen. Each call required an operator to set things up.

A 1965 company called Improved Mobile Telephone service managed to expand the system, but dispite great demand they were leagally limited to 40,000 customers. It usually took half an hour to place a call. A rival company called RCC also existed, but with its own limitations.

The first hand held mobile appeared in 1973. These were almost a foot long and weighed over a kilo, but much smaller than previous mobiles that were usually kept in a car. Talk time was 30 minutes and charge time was about 10 hours.

The 1G cellular mobile phone network become operational in Japan in 1979, covering the whole country by 1981. The concept of using hexagonal cells goes back to Bell labs in 1947, but it took thirty years before the concept was implemented. The Cellular system was running in the USE by 1983 and Australia by 1987. These systems did use some digital features, but were basically analogue. The mobile phones of this era, like the Motorola dynaTAC, still only had a little over half hour talk time and required 10 hours for charging.

Digital systems came in during the 1990’s this allowed smaller phones with better battery life. These digital systems had far more cell-sites, meaning more base stations and hence a shorter distance broadcast distance between the mobile to the main telephone system. All this helped battery life. Text messaging started to become common by the mid to late 1990s. Internet connections appeared in 1999.

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