Today marks forty-five years since the first mobile phone call was made – yes, it was on April 3, 1973, that Martin Cooper, a Motorola executive, made the first mobile phone call. The years since have seen mobile phones move from being sci-fi novelties to an essential (no pun, sorry, Andy Rubin) part of our lives. Of course, a lot has changed in this forty-five-year period, so to mark 45 years of calling by mobile phone, here are fifteen facts you might not know about your cell:
- Hello there, competitor!
Most people do know that the first mobile phone call was made by a Motorola executive (Martin Cooper) using a Motorola device (Moto won’t ever let us forget it). Still, not too many know the person TO whom the call was made – it was to Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs, a rival company in the cellular space at that time.
- Sleek, light, stylish…not
The DynaTac, the phone used to make the first mobile phone call was many things, but it certainly was neither compact nor featherweight. It was a massive 23 cm long (almost one and a half times the size of the iPhone X at 23 centimeters and was almost as thick as some phones are tall today – 13 centimeters. Had enough? It was also 1.1 kg in weight. All this for a battery life of half an hour and TEN hours of charging time. Ah, technology!
- Streaming music…older than you think
Before you start running down old-world technology, do not forget the oldies had a running start on us when it came to streaming music over phones. The first phone-streaming music service came in 1897. No, that is not a typo. It was called Telharmonium, and users who called it would get music being played live (yes, LIVE) by musicians on it. Yes, they played right through the day – twenty-four hours.
- Simon says…smartphone
The first smartphone? As per most sources, it was the IBM Simon (or IBM Simon Personal Communicator) in 1993. It was marketed as the first PDA to support phone calls – and PDAs were huge in those days and not about displays of affection, but were actually personal digital assistants. Quite amazingly, the UI was a touchscreen one and was called Navigator. It could make calls and also handle e-mails and faxes (remember them?). No, it was not a huge success, but a start had been made.
- Wanna send a text? Get a computer
People prefer talking to texting. If you need evidence of this, then consider the fact that the first SMS was sent almost twenty years after the first mobile phone call – in 1992 by Vodafone. Neil Papworth, an engineer, sent a “Merry Christmas” message to Richard Jarvis, a Vodafone director. Incidentally, the message was sent from a computer because, hey, mobile phone keyboards at that time only had numbers! In 1993, Nokia introduced SMS on its phones.
- A phone bill amount longer than a phone number!
Think you have seen hefty mobile phone bills? Spare a thought for Solenne San Jose. This Bordeaux resident was sent a bill of €11,721,000,000,000,000 (GBP 9.4 quadrillion) in 2012. That’s about SIX THOUSAND times the GDP of France. Of course, she called the helpline. And was told that the amount could be settled in “installments.” There was a lot of back and forth before which the lady’s real bill amount was discovered – €117.21. And it was waived, too.
- Phone phobias
Yes, phones can have an adverse effect on your health. Check the following:
- Telephonobia: Fear of making or receiving phone calls
- Nomophobia: Fear of not having your phone, losing it or being out of a signal range.
- Ringxiety: The feeling that your phone is ringing even when it is not
- Frigensophobia: The fear that using a phone causes brain damage.
- What do people mostly use their phones for? Not for calls, texts, social networks, or mail…actually, it is for checking the time.
- A loo’s character?
Of course, people use their phones. A lot. Which is perhaps one of the most documented statistics out there is the fact that there are more bacteria on your phone than in a toilet!
- Throw that phone…
So if phones are so dangerous, you should get rid of them, right? Well, there is a sport for that! You read that right – mobile phone throwing is an international sport, and its origins come from the land of Nokia, Finland. There are proper techniques and records too. There is even an entry in the Guinness Book for the farthest distance a phone has been thrown (110.42 meters by Dries Feremans of Belgium)
- …or wait, just nail it to the wall
If a phone rings on the sets of a James Cameron film, the famous director does not throw it. He reportedly uses a nail gun to nail the guilty crew member’s phone to the wall!
And one more thing…
Guess who got the phone number 888-888-8888? Well, he ended up getting hundreds of wrong number calls, often from babies who ended up hitting those keys while playing with phones. Even Steve Wozniak could not handle that!