Happy 40th birthday, cellphone! Yes, it was 40 years ago on April 3, 1973, that Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer, made the first successful cellphone call.
My colleague, Karen Field, told the story of that first call in one of the many articles celebrating the 40th anniversary of EE Times which is also this year. The big brick cellphone was a triumph of semiconductor and systems design at the time. She notes the somewhat unsung enginner "Don Linder figured out how to combine some 300 to 400 parts together into a working phone."
I don’t see a midlife crisis in the works for this device. Quite the contrary, we are still in the midst of a mobile boom that has not yet hit its peak, transforming our industry and our lives.
The amazing feats of chip and systems engineering just keep happening. They have given us the superphones so many of use depend on every day to keep in touch with the world via voice, text, music and video.
Today we live in an industry fueled by the mobile business and its siblings the cloud network and the data center. Incidentally, next month it will be the 40th anniversary of Bob Metcalfe’s memo seen as the birthday of Ethernet, the core technology of the cloud and data center.
I invite you to take a moment out of the rushed pace of our now mobile lives and give the story of the first cellphone a read. Then I’d invite you to reflect for a moment about where we have been and where we are going and weigh in with your thoughts.
What technologies are being demonstrated today that may look like big ugly bricks but could reshape the world when they mature? What will the cellphone look like when it is ready for retirement in say another 40 years?
BTW, in 2008 another colleague, Rich Nass, did a video interview with Cooper at the former Embedded Systems Conference (now Design West). You can see that video here, or check out many other interviews with Marty on YouTube--maybe even watch one on your smartphone.
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