It is hard to imagine what the first cell phones were like by looking at the sleek, thin models that we have available nowadays and all the features that they sport. It has become the norm now for people to own one, two, or maybe even three cell phones at a time, all with a number of features ranging from cameras to 4G services.
It is hard to think that there was a time when there were 0G cell phones! That seems like a joke but once upon a time, there were. So let’s look at the cell phone, where it all started from and how it got where it is today.
The 0G (zero generation) mobile phone was first introduced in 1945; it got its signal from a single, very powerful base station which provided coverage for a wide area and once inside that area, your mobile phone would command a whole channel for itself while it was being used.
Next was the car phone in 1960 which allowed you to make and receive phone calls while in your car. It sported a rotary dial and weighed in at 88 lbs! Later versions of it were small enough to be carried around in a briefcase and had push-buttons instead of a rotary dial.
Martin Cooper is known as the inventor of the first practical out-of-car mobile phone. Cooper was a researcher for Motorola and so it can also be said that Motorola was the first company to invent a practical mobile phone. On April 3, 1973 Cooper made the first call ever made on a hand-held mobile phone. Of course it was much bigger and heavier than the phones that we just push in our pockets today, but it was a start.
Then in 1979 came 1G, the first automated cell network to be used commercially. It started out in Japan and covered the metropolitan area of Tokyo using a network of 23 base stations. Nordic Mobile Telephone then launched a system that allowed international roaming and Östen Mäkitalo who was the instigator of this project, is considered by some to be the father of the cell phone as we know it.
1991 saw the introduction of 2G which was the launch of the first digital cellular technology in Finland. It is here that the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) standard was introduced. The capability to send text messages followed in 1993 and the first internet service phones were launched in 1999 in Japan.
Then there was 3G, the generation most widely known today; 3G was first launched in 2001 in Japan and has provided us with mobile high speed internet capabilities and faster connections.
The next upgrade has been 4G (also called Beyond 3G) which has only recently been released and is expected to offer broadband wireless access and much faster transfer rates than we have seen before. By 2011 it is expected that 4G will have completely replaced the networks that we currently have in place.