Cell Phones


Individual Inventors & Mobile Phone Patents

Dr. Martin Cooper for Motorola.
Radio telephone system
Inventors: Martin Cooper, Richard W. Dronsuth, ; Albert J. Mikulski, Charles N. Lynk Jr., James J. Mikulski, John F. Mitchell, Roy A. Richardson, John H. Sangster

Dr Martin Cooper, a former general manager for the systems division at Motorola, is considered the inventor of the first modern portable handset. Cooper made the first call on a portable cell phone in April 1973. He made the call to his rival, Joel Engel, Bell Labs head of research. Bell Laboratories introduced the idea of cellular communications in 1947 with the police car technology. However, Motorola was the first to incorporate the technology into portable device that was designed for outside of a automobile use. Cooper and his co-inventors are listed above.

By 1977, AT&T and Bell Labs had constructed a prototype cellular system. A year later, public trials of the new system were started in Chicago with over 2000 trial customers. In 1979, in a separate venture, the first commercial cellular telephone system began operation in Tokyo. In 1981, Motorola and American Radio telephone started a second U.S. cellular radio-telephone system test in the Washington/Baltimore area. By 1982, the slow-moving FCC finally authorized commercial cellular service for the USA. A year later, the first American commercial analog cellular service or AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) was made available in Chicago by Ameritech.

Despite the incredible demand, it took cellular phone service 37 years to become commercially available in the United States. Consumer demand quickly outstripped the 1982 system standards. By 1987, cellular telephone subscribers exceeded one million and the airways were crowded.

Three ways of improving services existed:

  • one – increase frequencies allocation
  • two – split existing cells
  • three – improve the  technology

The FCC did not want to handout any more bandwidth, and building/splitting cells would have been expensive and would have added bulk to the network. To stimulate the growth of new technology, the FCC declared in 1987 that cellular licensees could employ alternative cellular technologies in the 800 MHz band. The cellular industry began to research new transmission technology as an alternative.

Editor’s Note: African American Inventor Henry Sampson did not invent the cell phone. Sampson is a brilliant and accomplished inventor who invented a Gamma-Electrical Cell and not a phone cell. Sampson’s patent (US 3,591,860) can be viewed online or in person at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

cell phones


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