Thanks, Marty

29 March, 2008
Rat Fink

Many of us don’t know what we’d do without our cell phones (Yours Truly included). Since we’re coming up on the 35th anniversary of the cell phone – no joke, it’s been *that* long – I thought I’d perform a little retrospective, just to illustrate how far we’ve come.

Martin Cooper made the first cell phone call in New York City on 3 April, 1973. He recalled in a recent interview:

As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren’t cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter – probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life.

No kidding – especially considering the weight of the thing. I mean, look at the size of the first wireless phone. The model at left (held by Cooper himself), weighed almost 2 pounds.

The cost to buy one of these babies in ’73: $3,500.

Wireless contract, anyone?

As the 80s appeared, technology got better, but not necessarily any smaller. Emphasis by the industry was placed on putting phones in people’s cars (a decision many have criticized, even to this day). I remember when they were not called “cell phones,” but “car phones.” This doozy weighed 21 lbs.

The 1990s saw cell phones shrink in both size and cost (thank God). Nokia pioneered the “candy bar” phone – meaning that it doesn’t have a lid or closing panel that must be opened or slid in order to talk. I had one of these back in the 90s. The cost by then: around $300 per phone.

Now, cell phones are lighter, cheaper, faster and more robust than ever before. Mine is a Razr by Motorola (already a dinosaur, but I still like it), weighing in at just over 3 ounces. And I went to skinit.com and designed my own Fabs cover.

So yeah – thanks Marty. You’ve come a long way, baby.

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RtB’s First-Ever Contest!

King size Hershey chocolate bar awarded (or sent through the mail) to the first person who correctly identifies the product whose slogan was “You’ve come a long way, baby.” (My sister Mavis, who knows every entertainment history fact there is to know, is, unfortunately, not eligible for this contest. Heh.) Email your answer to ratfink at finkweb org.

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