Martin Cooper the inventor of first mobile phone
Martin Cooper (inventor)
Martin Cooper (born December 26, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, USA) is a former Motorola vice president and division manager who in the 1970s led the team that developed the handheld mobile phone (as distinct from the car phone). Cooper is the CEO and founder of ArrayComm, a company that works on researching smart antenna technology and improving wireless networks, and was the corporate director of Research and Development for Motorola.
Career After World War II, Cooper left the navy and began working at Teletype, a subsidiary of Western Electric. In 1954, he was hired by Motorola. While working there he attended classes and studied at night. By 1957, he had earned his Master’s Degree in electrical engineering from theIllinois Institute of Technology, and taught night school classes at that university.
In 1960, John F. Mitchell became chief engineer of Motorola’s mobile communications projects and Cooper reported to Mitchell. In the 1960s Cooper was instrumental in turning pagers from a technology used in single buildings to one that stretched across cities. Cooper helped fix a flaw in the quartz crystals Motorola made for its radios. This encouraged the company to mass-produce the first crystals for use in wrist watches. Cooper worked on developing portable products, including the first portable handheld police radios, made for the Chicago police department in 1967.
In the early 1970s, Mitchell put Cooper in charge of its car phone division where he led Motorola’s cellular research. Cooper envisioned mobile phones that would be used not only in a car, but also small and light enough to be portable. Thanks to years of research and development in portable products directed by Cooper and new technologies from all over the company, when the pressure was on, it took only 90 days in 1973 to create the first portable cellular 800 MHz phone prototype.
World’s first handheld cellular phone call in public
In 1973, when Motorola installed a base station to handle the first public demonstration of a phone call over the cellular network, the company was trying to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to allocate frequency space to private companies for use in the emerging technology of cellular communications. After some initial testing in Washington for the F.C.C., Cooper and Motorola took the cellular phone technology to New York to demonstrate it to reporters and the public. On April 3, 1973, standing on Sixth Avenue in New York City near the New York Hilton hotel, Cooper made a phone call from a prototype Dyna-Tac handheld cellular phone before going to a press conference upstairs in the hotel. The phone connected Cooper with the base station on the roof of the Burlington House (now the Alliance Capital Building) across the street from the hotel and into the AT&T land-line telephone system. As reporters and passers-by watched, he dialed the number and held the phone to his ear. That first call, placed to Dr. Joel S. Engel, head of research at Bell Labs, began a fundamental technology and communications market shift toward making phone calls to a person instead of to a place. This first phone weighed about 2.5 lb (1.1 kg). It was the product of Cooper’s vision for personal wireless handheld telephone communications, distinct from mobile car phones. Cooper has stated in jest that watching Captain Kirk using hiscommunicator on the television show Star Trek inspired him to develop the handheld mobile phone.
After demonstrating the prototype cell phone to reporters, Cooper allowed some of the reporters to make phone calls to anyone of their choosing to prove that the cell phone could function as a versatile part of the telephone network.
Cooper is considered the inventor of the first handheld cellular phone and the first person to make a phone call in public on a handheld cell phone. Cooper and the engineers who worked for him, and Mitchell are named on the patent “Radio telephone system” filed on October 17, 1973.
Commercializing the product
The original Motorola DynaTAC handset, weighed 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and had 35 minutes of talk time. Cooper has said “The battery lifetime was 20 minutes, but that wasn’t really a big problem because you couldn’t hold that phone up for that long.” By 1983 and after four iterations, Cooper’s team had reduced the handset’s weight by half that of the original. The list price was around $4,000 (2009: $8,600). Cooper left Motorola before they started selling handheld mobile phones to consumers.
Cellular Business Systems
Cooper started a company with partners to provide billing systems for cellular operators. In 1986, they sold the company to Cincinnati Bell for $23m.
In 2006, Cooper and his wife, Arlene Harris, founded GreatCall maker of Jitterbug, a U.S. mobile virtual wireless operator (in cooperation with the Verizon network). The company provides mobile telephone service carried on its own brand of handsets, which are marketed specifically to those looking for simplicity.
To make a home base, Cooper and his wife Arlene Harris founded Dyna in 1987, (www.dynallc.com) to provide a home base for their various development and support acitivities incubating several businesses including GreatCall-Jitterbug, SOS Wireless, Accessible Wireless, ArrayComm, and Subscriber Computing. The jitterbug was created for the use of elderly folk that can’t hear as well.
Awards and affiliations
In 1995, Cooper received the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for his technological innovations in the communication field. Cooper is also a member of Mensa. Martin Cooper was mentioned in Red Herring’s Top ten Entrepreneurs of 2000. In 2009, along with Raymond Tomlinson, Cooper received the Prince of Asturias Award for scientific and technical research. In February 2010, Cooper was elected to the National Academy of Engineering .