How far we’ve come: First cellphone call was made 40 years ago today

Women looking at their cellphones during a community meeting in Aurangabad, India. Via Flickr user World Bank Photo Collection

Women looking at their cellphones during a community meeting in Aurangabad, India. Via Flickr user World Bank Photo Collection.

Forty years ago today, history was made and the talkative teens of the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.

On April 3, 1973, the first cellphone call was made. Side note: the call was made by then Motorola vice president to Bell Labs, which had also been scrambling to build a mobile phone.

That’s people for you. It wasn’t enough to invent the technology first. Motorola had to wave it in Bell Labs’ face.

Either way, that was the beginning of the cellphone and the burgeoning idea of mobility.

It’s astouding to look back at the past 40 years as the technology has spread and improved. About 75 percent of the world now have access to a mobile phone, according to a 2012 report from the World Bank.

Over the years, mobile phones have increasingly entered the mainstream for all ages. I got my first cellphone in 2008 toward the end of high school and my first smartphone about nine months ago.

When I was in middle school, it was unheard of for a kid that age to have a cellphone. Now, kids in elementary school and younger have mobile phones. (Whether that’s good or not is a topic for another day.)

It’s strange to think how ubiquitous mobile phones have become. Think back to 10 years ago. Few people had them, and they were the weight of a brick. All they could do was make calls, and that was that.

Now, it’s unimaginable to think of life without a mobile phone. What did people do if they drove to someone’s house and got lost? How did they call someone in an emergency? It was a different time.

Most of the world has a mobile phone, and they’re marvels of technology. A typical smartphone has more computing power than Apollo 11 when it took man to the moon. The entirety of human knowledge sits in our pockets (though many just use their devices to look up photos of cats).

In honor of how they’ve changed communication, culture, and the way people interact with one another, let’s salute mobile phones and maybe try not to drop ours on the ground today.


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