50 years ago, he made the first cell phone call

a painting of a man standing in front of a fire

Fifty years ago, on April 3 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper made the first ever cellular phone call. Using a prototype of what would eventually become the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, Cooper placed a call to his rival Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs – the man who, only months previously, had made the first call on a handheld mobile phone. The historic conversation between the two men, which lasted just over a minute, would change the world forever.

It’s hard to overstate the impact that cellular phones have had on our lives. In the half century since that first call was made, we have gone from a world in which only the wealthy could afford to own a mobile phone, to one in which more than two thirds of the global population now has access to one. And as the technology has developed, so too has the way in which we use it. What started out as a tool for making calls and sending text messages has become a portal into an entire online world, capable of connecting us with friends and family, providing us with entertainment, and giving us access to a seemingly infinite wealth of information.

Of course, it’s not all positive. The mass adoption of cellular phones has also had some less than desirable effects on our society, chief among them addiction and distraction. It’s not uncommon to see people walking around with their heads buried in their phones, paying more attention to the digital world than the real one. And while there’s nothing wrong with spending some time lost in our thoughts, it’s important to remember that we should also make an effort to engage with the world around us.

But on the whole, it’s hard to deny the positive impact that cellular phones have had on our lives. And as we move into the next phase of the mobile revolution, with 5G and foldable phones on the horizon, it’s safe to say that the best is yet to come.

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