The first cellular telephone call was made on this day in 1973.
An employee at Motorola, Dr Martin Cooper made the first call to a rival, Dr Joel S Engel, who was head of research at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories.
The basic idea for cellular communication emerged in 1947, when researchers started examining basic car phones and realised that by reusing frequency over small surface area ranges (cells), it would be possible to increase traffic capacity of mobile phones.
Following the first call in 1973, Bell Labs trialed the first commercial cellular network in Chicago. The network only received FCC approval in 1982.
The first commercial launch of a cellular telecommunications network was done in Tokyo, Japan in 1979 by NET. In 1981, the NMT system was launched in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
In South Africa, cell phones gained commercial popularity from the 1990s. Currently, it is estimated that around 60% of households in the country own a cell phone.
Mobile phones have also made it possible for those living in rural areas to access the internet. Read more.