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April 02, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Fifty years of cell phones

The first cell phone call was made 50 years ago on April 3, 1973.

The first cell phone call was made 50 years ago today.

That sounds wrong, right? Have cell phones really been around that long?

What we know as modern cell phones, no. But technically, yes. Let’s dive in.

On April 3, 1973, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper stood in Midtown Manhattan and placed the first public call from a handheld portable cell phone to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey.

This would forever change the way people communicate by allowing phone calls from nearly anywhere. Phones and other devices since have become mini-computers with the ability for always-on connectivity through messaging, entertainment, internet access, apps, and social media. In fact, most Americans – 82 percent – are now using a smartphone versus a “regular” phone.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the cell phone, it’s exciting to look back on how far the technology has come,” said Thomas White, Director of Sales for UScellular. “As the technology evolves over the next 50 years, we will continue to invest in our Tennessee network to ensure our customers can connect to what matters most.”

From a portable phone that was large enough to warrant its own carrying bag to the handheld computers most people have now, the cell phone continues to be a technological staple in the U.S. and beyond.

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