Posted By Lori Ferraro on Feb 1, 10 comments Since my teen years in the s, phones have changed immensely. They have gone from big, clunky, curly-corded devices to sleek, tiny, talking computers that you can take anywhere with you.
Photo courtesy Motorola, Inc. The cell phone is one of those rare science fiction technologies that actually made it into the real world. Because we ALL have cell phones today, it is hard to imagine a time when we would take a walk, go shopping or drive somewhere without the ability to make an instant phone call.
How did we ever survive when we were so disconnected? I can remember driving with a realtor in the early s. He had the predecessor of the cell phone -- an in-car radio phone.
The way this worked was simple. There was a big radio tower in the middle of the city. Inside the car was a handset and a button panel that let you choose between one of four different channels.
Yes, in the early s, the entire city of Raleigh, NC was served by four radio telephone channels. That's how rare car radio phones were at that time. They were incredibly expensive. The genius of the cell phone idea was that you could break up a city into many small cells.
Each cell would have a tower holding the antennas, and that tower would be able to transmit only two or three miles.
Inside each cell there would be about different radio frequencies in use, allowing about 50 simultaneous calls. Then, those frequencies could be reused in cells across the city by spacing things out properly.
The system had huge capacity compared to the radio telephone system. Instead of one tower with four channels serving a mile radius, you could have dozens of cells in a city with 50 callers in each cell.
Because the towers were always just a mile or two away, the phone could get by with a one-watt transmitter. This meant the phone could be small and the battery life would be reasonable.
The cell phone system for a city was going to be expensive, because companies had to build all those towers in each city. And the initial cost of the phones was nuts. It was as big and almost as heavy as a brick.
And the cost per minute was a dollar or more.
But there were lots of rich people stock traders, for example who really needed the service, and they were willing to pay. There were also car phones that were cheaper, but not cheap.Apr 24, · April 24 -- In the s and early '70s, if you wanted to make a phone call, you did so from a device wired to the telephone grid.
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A brief history of the telephone: The s was an important time in the development of telephone technology. From the introduction of more portable cell phones, to a shift from analog to digital technology, owning a cell phone became much more popular during this time period.
Early cell phones were just for talking. Gradually, features like voicemail were added, but the main purpose was talk. Eventually, cell phone manufacturers began to realize that they could integrate other technologies into their phone and expand its features.