Mobile phones have come a long way since the heady days of carefree Yuppies gibbering into house bricks about a 2 point shares increase. These days, not only are Yuppies not nearly as care-free, but your mobile isn’t heavier than you. Today your mobile can do almost anything, it’s a calculator, camera, calendar, barcode scanner, internet browser, music player, address book, clock, alarm to name but a few features most modern mobile phones boast. Bearing this in mind, it really is worth looking into humble roots of the modern man’s ultimate tool.
It may be hard to believe, but the very idea of a mobile phone was first conceived in 1908, when the American Nathan B. Stubblefield issued a patent application for a wireless telephone. It is important to realise however that his patent referred to “cave radio” telephones, which are a far cry to what the man in the street would understand to be a mobile phone. A patent for what we today would call a mobile phone – that is a device which was not a “Radiophone”, which had been around for decades – was first applied for in 1969 by another American, George Sweigert.
There were many advancements in the field from then on, and the first truly practical mobile phone was developed by the Motorola Company, and more specifically Martin Cooper, in 1973. Around the same time network technology was also being developed, with vital breakthrough enabling later mobile phones a wider coverage area.2g – meaning 2nd generation – followed, and eventually 3g was introduced in 2001, the network which most modern mobile phones take advantage of, meaning high-speed internet access could be achieved, opening the door for many of the features we take for granted today. Nowadays it’s amazing to think that in the UK 70 million mobile phones are in use, which works out at an ownership rate of 116%. Worldwide there are over 4 billion mobile phones in use, working out at 60%, an amazing statistic considering the short time in which mobile phones have been truly practical.