In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell recieved the first US patent for a traditional telephone. The telephone technology was initially designed for the telegraph, at that time, calls were connected by designated switchboard operators.
developed radio communication as means to communicate with offshore lighthouses.
On December 23, 1900 Reginald Fessenden was able to sucessfully transmit a brief, intelligible voice message between to stations located approximately 1 mile apart on Cobb Island in Maryland. Fessenden was able to accomplish this using amplitude modulation (AM). Fessenden was the first person known to transmit the human voice using radio waves. The message was transmitted by sending a signal from one radio tower to another radio tower.
In 1902, Reginald Fessenden organized the National Electric Signalling Company (NESCO) in conjunction with two financiers.
The goal of NESCO was to manufacture Fessenden's inventions and sell them to the military, shipping companies and companies that would benefit from wireless telegraph communications. In order to demonstrate the capabilities of NESCO, Fessenden built a 420 foot tower station in Brant Rock, Massachusetts and another tower station in Machrihanish Scotland. General Electric was commissioned to build a 50,000 hertz alternator that could be used as along-distance high frequency radio transmitter.
In January of 1906, Reginald Fessenden and NESCO were able to successfully establish transatlantic two way wireless telegraphic communication between Brant Rock, Massachusetts and Machrihanish, Scotland using morse code. The communication however, was not consistently reliable. That said, later that year the Scottish Station was able to hear voice transmissions between Brant Rock, Massachusetts and Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Before Fessenden was able to further explore transatlantic voice communication, the tower in Scotland was damaged in a storm. On December 24, 1906 Fessenden broadcast speech and music from the Brant Rock Station. The transmission included Gospel verses and an Edison phonograph recording, the broadcast was heard as far away as Norfolk, Virginia.
The first US patent for a mobile phone was issued to a Kentucky Wireless telephone company on May 12, in 1908. Nathan Stubblefield, a melon farmer and self described electrician from Murray, Kentucky was the man behind the wireless company. The US Patent # 887,357 came about after Nathan
invented a device in 1902 that was the size of a garbage can and had a range of a half mile. This device/invention was known as the Cave Radio and later the Cave Phone.
The Radio Act of 1912 also known as Act to Regulate Radio Communications was the first US legislation to require licenses for radio stations.
Although radio communications technology was developed in the late 1890s it was largely unregulated in the United States. The lack of regulation led to interference issues, this included conflicts between amateur radio operators, the military, and commercial companies. The Radio Act of 1912 was enacted before the introduction of broadcasting to the general public, and was eventually found to contain insufficient authority to effectively control broadcasting, so the act was replaced and the government's regulatory powers increased by the passage of the Radio Act of 1927.
In 1926 first class passenger trains in Germany that connected Berlin and Hamburg, used radio and telephone technology for the first time. The radio telephones were also used in passenger airplanes for air traffic safety.
The Federal Radio Commission (FRC)
was a US government agency that was created in 1927 to regulate US radio communications. The FRC was established by the Radio Act of 1927 (which had replaced the Radio Act of 1912). The Radio Act of 1912 was found to lack sufficient oversight provisions for regulating broadcasting stations. The FRC increased the regulatory powers of the government introduced a standard in order to receive a "license" a radio station had to be shown to be "in the public interest, convenience or necessity". The FRC was replaced by the FCC in 1934.
On June 19, 1934 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was established in the US. The FCC is a US government agency that is responsible for regulating, radio, television and phone industries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all US territories. The FCC regulates all interstate communications, such as wire, satellite and cable as well as international communications that originate or terminate in the US. The FCC was formed by the Communications Act of 1934 and was instituted to replace the radio regulation functions of the Federal Radio Commission. The FCC's mission is to "make available so far as possible, to all people of the United States without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient Nationwide and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges." The Communications Act of 1934 furthermore provides that the FCC was created "for the purpose of national defense" and "for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications".
1n the 1940s AT&T developed cells for bases stations.
The very first cell phones were not really mobile phones, they were actually two-way radios. These devices were initially used by emergency services and in commercial businesses like liveries (taxi companies).
On June 17, 1946 a mobile telephone call was made from a car in St Louis Missouri using Bell Lab's mobile telephone system.
In 1947 a Bell Laboratories engineer named William Rae Young working in conjunction with DH Ring designed low power transmitters to pass call across a network. It allowed the calls to be passed, as a caller moved from one tower's broadcast radius (or cell), to another tower's broadcast area. The technology was limited but the concept was sound. It took several years to effectively build out a cellular network but you do not look far to see that the investment has had a profound impact on the way people communicate.
In 1949 AT&T publicly launched a service known as Mobile Telephone Service. The Mobile Telephone Service essentially used radio telephones. The functionality was very limited, requiring equipment installed in a vehicle to provide the service. Each call had to be manually connected by an operator, and service was limited in that only three "channels" were available at any given time, meaning only 3 consumers, in any given area could connect simultaneously. The system functioned similar to a walkie-talkie holding a button down to speak, and releasing the button to listen. Callers would often have to wait for other conversations to end before they could place their call.
in 1957 Leonid Kupriyanovich, a Russian Engineer, developed a "wearable mobile phone" in Moscow. The "wearable mobile phone" functioned in conjunction with a "base station".
In 1968 the FCC allocated frequencies in the 800-900 MHz range to solve some of the issues that occurred with the limited bandwidth that had been made available to build out the cellular networks. The network of cell sites supported a call switching infrastructure, tracking users as they moved through the service area switching from tower to tower.
On April 3, 1973 Motorola announced their first handheld mobile phone, the phone weighed approximately 2.4 lbs. The mobile phone was said to have the capacity to make a 30 minute phone call after charging the battery for 10 hours. The engineer credited with designing the first cell phone, Martin Cooper, placed the first public call as he walked on sixth avenue in New York City between 53rd and 54th street.
Cooper's first call with the cell phone was to Dr. Joel. S. Engel at Bell Labs. At the time Bell Labs was Motorola's competitor and market rival. Motorola was a relatively small company at the time and it was really quite a coup for them to accomplish something that Bell Labs had yet to do. At the time Bell Labs had a monopoly over American Telephone System, and were a market leader. Cooper placed the phone call in front of a crowd of reporters. After completing the call to Bell Labs, Cooper allowed some of the reporters to place personal phone calls to anyone of their choosing. His hope was that their phone calls would demonstrate the phone's capability and capacity. Cooper's invention was said to have been inspired by Star Trek and Captain Kirk's use of a communicator. It can easily be argued that Cooper's call was an example of true mobility and changed the landscape of telecommunications for the foreseeable future.
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone launched the world's first cellular network in Tokyo. The 1G network took approximately 2 years to expand to all of Japan.
The first 1G telecom network was deployed to the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Motorola mass produced and released a consumer friendly portable mobile phone with a slimmer profile and improved battery life than it's predecessor from 1973. The price tag was a whopping $3,995.00.
In the 1990s 2G cellular networks began to emerge along with the second generation of cell phones. The 90s also saw division of standards between the American cell networks and the European networks. The European standard was referred to as GSM while American carriers at the time favored CDMA. Both GSM and CDMA used digital transmission rather than analog.
While it was not referred to as a "smart phone" IBM released what could be considered the very first smartphone in 1992. The device known as a Simon Personal Communicator, had the combined functionality of a PDA and a cell phone. The Simon had a 4.5" x 1.4" LCD touchscreen with a pen stylus. The initial retail price of a Simon was $899. In addition to being able to make phone calls the Simon allowed consumers to send and receive both email and faxes. The Simon had additional built in functions like an address book, calendar, clock, appointment scheduling and notes. The Simon was said to be a cell phone first and a computer second. Even with the robust capabilities of the Simon, it was before its time, and never achieved widespread consumer adoption.
In December of 1992, Neil Papworth a young contract developer working for Vodafone sent the very first SMS message in the UK to Richard Jarvis, a director at Vodafone. The message was a simple one, "Merry Christmas".
Motorola released the first known flip phone on January 3, 1996. The phone was known as the Motorola StarTAC. The Motorola StarTAC was among the first cellular phones that gained widespread consumer adoption. The initial price of the Motorola StarTAC was over $1,000.
In 1998, the first downloadable ringtones were launched in Finland.
In 1999 small simple image icons, known as emojis were invented in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita. Emoji's replaced their predecessor emoticons, which were text representation of a facial expression intended to convey the writer's tone or emotion.
The first smart phones with cameras became widely available.
In 2003 the GSM standard was beginning to gain adoption on a global scale. Also in 2003, 3G networks began gaining traction.
With the wide spread adoption of cell phone use, disposing of cell phones became a hazard and environmental concern. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed the Cellular Phone Recycling Act requiring retailers to create plans for collection of used/old cellular/mobile devices.
In January of 2007, Apple launched the very first iPhone. The first iPhone was described as: a wireless communication device, an iPod, mobile phone and handheld device all built into one device. iPhone was one of the first touchscreen devices of the time that was widely adopted commercially. While Apple did not invent the concept of a touchscreen, they innovatively applied the use of the touchscreen technology to the iPhone, which caused it to become common place. Touchscreens are now found on every modern day cell phone.
Apple App Store launched.
Samsung launched it's first Android phone. While the Samsung Galaxy S Series was not the first Android phone available, it quickly became the most popular Android phone available on the market.
In 2011, Clif Kushler invented Swype. Swype was a texting feature for touchscreens that enabled users to drag their fingers to connect the dots between letters in a word.