The 40 year mobile transformation

The mobile phone has turned 40 and what a dramatic four decades have they been. The first generation of heavy devices with miniscule battery lives have laid the foundation of today's mobile world.

The mobile phone has turned 40 and what a dramatic four decades have they been. The rather weighty devices with miniscule battery lives, which kick-started the mobile age,  have now given way to a panoply of devices – big, small and everything in between.

The mobile phones of yesterday have given way to smartphones, and this transformation has seen the great brands of the old - Nokia, Motorola – lose their lustre and fighting for relevancy in a world dominated by iPhones and Galaxies.

The first mobile call was placed April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, who used a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x to call Joel Engel - the head of rival research department Bell Labs. His words where “"Joel, this is Marty. I'm calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone." One wonders if Cooper realised at the time just how momentous and prophetic his words where. His ‘real handheld portable cell phone’ has now transformed every aspect of our lives. The way we work, the way we shop and the way we play.

Cooper’s world of mobile phones was a far cry from what we have today. As he told The Verge last year, the DynaTAC 8000x came out at a time many of us can scarcely imagine. There were no digital cameras, no large-scale integrated circuits and no internet.


The forty year journey, as highlighted in this infographic (courtesy of Mashable and Column Five) mobile phones once worth their price in gold are now everywhere at a multiple price ranges. Far from being just a communication device, today’s smartphones provide multiple functionalities and are an integral tool in an inter-connected society. Interestingly, given the buzz around wearable technology, who knows what form factor is waiting to usurp the primacy of the smartphones. Another four decades and the legacy of the DynaTAC 8000x and Cooper may just be too far down the annals of history for anyone to remember. 

Graph for Click to enlarge

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