The Cell Phone Invention

The Cell Phone Invention

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The Cell Phone Invention

We have all seen and used cell phones. However we have probably taken the technology for granted. The cellular telephone has evolved and improved a lot over the years. Before we get into the history let us first get the definition for 'cellular'. It's called cellular because the system uses many base stations to divide a service area into multiple 'cells' (1). Each base station consists of a tower and at the base is the equipment to send and receive signals. Now that it cleared up we will look back into the history.

To find the first "cell phone" in history we look back to 1928. In 1928 the Detroit Michigan Police Department made the earliest significant use Mobile radio in a vehicle in the United States. The system operated at a frequency close to 2 MHz. The channels soon became overcrowded (3). This seems like a small and weak signal but at the time it was evolutionary. Nothing like this had ever been done before. It also seems like a crude method but it was just the beginning.

The police, different companies, and public agencies were the only ones that got to use the mobile technology, but in 1945 the technology was made for public use. The mobile equipment was not sophisticated enough to prevent interference (3). The concept of using small cells wasn't looked at until 1947. Research found that this would increase the traffic capacity of mobile phones, however the technology didn't exist at that time (1). Also in 1947 AT&T tried to get the FCC to put aside a large band of radio-spectrum frequencies so that widespread mobile telephone service would become feasible (1). The FCC didn't like the idea and didn't back the technology at the time and limited the amount of frequencies.
Twenty-one years later, in 1968, the FCC reconsidered AT&T's offer. They stated that, "if the technology to build a better mobile service works, we will increase the frequency allocation, freeing the airwaves for more mobile phones" (1). This is when AT&T and Bell Labs proposed the first idea of 'cells'. There would be many low frequency towers and calls would be passed from tower to tower as phones traveled across the area. Until this time, we have to realize that cell phone research was not a major or popular area. It was probably seen as a worthless study that wouldn't amount to much if anything.

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The proposal by AT&T to use cells was a major milestone in cell phone technology. The mobile service at this time was only available in automobiles. There were not personal hand held units. This is where Motorola comes into the picture.

On April 3rd of 1973, Martin Cooper, Motorola's General Manager made the first call on a portable cell phone (1). From this point in time until the point of time we are currently in the cellular technology exploded and made many advances. AT&T used 2000 trial customers in Chicago to test the new cellular technology in 1978 (1). This was the only city in the world using or testing the new technology. In the next several years tests were also conducted in Tokyo and the Washington/ Baltimore area. In 1982 the FCC finally authorized commercial cellular service for the USA (1). By 1987 cell phone users exceeded one thousand and the numbers only grew. Cell phones were the new hot commodities. Even though they were expensive and bulky people still used them and the airways soon became crowded. In 1988, the Cellular Technology Industry (CTIA) was established to work with the cellular service operators and researchers to identify new technology requirements and set goals.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) created a standard specification based on the requirements the CITA had recommended . The TDMA IS-54 was released in early 1991 and tested that same year in Dallas and Sweden. In 1994, the new technology caused the FCC to announce that they were allocating spectrum specifically for Personal Communication Services (PCS) technologies at the 1900 MHz band. Since then three major have been released and they are all currently being used in PCS.

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