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Cellphone calling now 25 years old

updated 08:40 am EDT, Fri October 10, 2008

25th Anniv of Cellphones

The CTIA today marked the 25th anniversary of the first practical cellphone call. October 13th, 1983 saw the first call made from Ameritech's president in Chicago to the grandson of Alexander Bell in Germany. The phone at the time was one of Motorola's earliest, the DynaTAC 8000X, and is now dramatically outclassed by even basic modern phones; the brick-like device weighed two pounds, measured about 13 inches long and netted about a half-hour of calling time.

Plans were also extremely limited during the 1980s, according to the organization. An average cellphone bill in 1987 amounted to $100 per month and only included voice.

By contrast, cellphones today without exception are small and light enough to fit in most pockets and often supply at least a few hours' worth of calling time. An average cellphone plan in the US is estimated to cost about $49 and usually includes some form of MMS or SMS messaging. Data is also now more common, although many plans with a large amount of data often cost $70 or more per month, including AT&T's iPhone plan and Sprint's Simply Everything.

The industry is now significantly larger and not only includes early communications firms such as Motorola and Nokia but relative latecomers such as Apple and Palm.

At present, the mobile industry is making an increasing shift towards Internet access and by 2010 should see 4G service that transfers data faster than many landline Internet connections; a recent test saw the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard hit 173Mbps while moving and theoretically allows very high-bandwidth features like streaming HD video.

Motorola DynaTAC 8000X

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I never realized cell phones had actually progressed in the last 25 years! Man, the next thing you know, we'll have a story about how even a cheapo computer today would outclass an IBM PC/AT from 25 years ago...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wonder, was the Ameritech ceo calling Bell's grandson a piece of symbolism to secretly show he stole the idea of Cell phones from someone else and taking all the credit?

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Pure puffery...

    The "cell" phone was hardly the invention of the CTIA, or any of its affiliate, modern cell companies.

    As with many early inventions, credit was stolen -- by, surprise(!), corrupt corporations and crooked bureaucrats in Washington -- from honest, independent inventors who could not afford the time and lawyers to lay claim to the products of others.

    Some of the earliest work in mobile telephony was done by Nathan Stubblefield, a Kentucky farmer, soon after the turn of the last century. For details, see; (Yes, I know Rense is a conspiracy site, but the original article appeared in Inc. magazine). More details, including pictures of Stubblefield's phone can be seen at: .

    There were other surprising, early contributors to cell technology. One of these was the actress Hedy Lemar, who, in the 1940s, invented the Digital Spread Spectrum radio technology that was finally used in the first modern cell phones in the 1980s. See: and .

    I'm surprised that more tech people aren't aware of this history, enough so so that the CTIA could be seen for what it is, a claim-jumper.

  1. wymer100

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wonder if the NSA was listening in on that call, too. :)

  1. andwi

    Joined: Dec 1969



    On the other side we had cellphones a few years earlier, NMT was the first truly public cell phone system and was operational in 1981.

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