Mobile communications, operating today around the world, are traditionally considered a relatively new invention. However, the first concepts of organizing the infrastructure of mobile communications appeared in the early 20th century. To the question in which country the first mobile phones appeared and when, it is difficult to answer unequivocally. But if you try to do this. what facts about the development of telephone communications with the use of radio equipment should be studied first of all? Based on what criteria should these or other devices be classified as mobile phones?
Mobile Phone History: Key Facts
To answer the question. who invented the first mobile phone in the world, we will be able, first of all, to familiarize ourselves with the history of the creation of the corresponding communication devices.
The concepts and prototypes of communication devices, from the functional point of view close to mobile phones, began to be discussed in various communities (scientific, engineering) as early as the beginning of the 20th century. But in fact, at the end of the 70s, the cell phone itself, as a subscriber’s communication tool, was developed by Bell Laboratories, which belonged to one of the largest American corporations. ATT. Among the first states to successfully implement commercial mobile communications systems is Finland. Mobile communications systems have been actively developed in the USSR.
But which state was ahead of the rest in terms of introducing mobile phones?
It will be useful to dwell on Soviet inventions in more detail. familiarization with the facts about them will help us understand when the first mobile phone in the world appeared and in which country.
Creating a mobile phone: Soviet experience
During the Great Patriotic War, the idea of creating a special device, a monophone, was proposed by the Soviet scientist Georgy Ilyich Babat. This device was supposed to be a portable telephone, operating in automatic mode. It was assumed that he would work in the range of 1-2 GHz. The principal feature of the apparatus proposed by G.I. Babat was the provision of voice transmission through an extensive network of special waveguides.
In 1946, G. Shapiro and I. Zakharchenko proposed to organize a radiotelephone communication system, in which devices for receiving and transmitting voice should be placed in cars. In accordance with this concept, the basis of the mobile communications infrastructure should have been existing city stations, supplemented by special radio equipment. It was supposed to use special callsigns as the caller ID.
In April 1957, Soviet engineer Leonid Ivanovich Kupriyanovich created a prototype communication device. the LK-1 radiotelephone. This device had a range of about 30 km and had a significant weight. about 3 kg. He could provide communication through interaction with a special telephone exchange, which could be connected to city telephone lines. Subsequently, the phone was improved. Is not it. Kupriyanovich significantly reduced the weight and dimensions of the device. In the updated version, the size of the device was approximately equal to the size of 2 cigarette boxes stacked on top of each other. The weight of the radiotelephone was about 500 grams with the battery. It was believed that the Soviet mobile phone will find wide application in the national economy, in everyday life and will become the subject of personal use of citizens.
Radiotelephone L.I. Kupriyanovich allowed not only to make calls, but also to receive them. subject to the assignment of a personal number, as well as the use of infrastructure that allows you to transmit signals from the telephone exchange to automatic telephone radios, and from them. already to subscriber devices.
Research in the field of mobile communications has been carried out in other socialist countries. For example, in 1959, the Bulgarian scientist Hristo Bachvarov developed a mobile device similar in principle to the phone of L.I. Kupriyanovich, and patented it.
Is it possible to say that the world’s first mobile phone was invented in this way in the USSR or in other social countries?
Criteria for assigning devices to mobile phones
First of all, it is worth deciding what to consider, in fact, a mobile phone. In accordance with a common definition, a device should be considered as such, which:
From this point of view, a full-fledged mobile phone in the Soviet Union was not yet invented. But, of course, the above criteria for determining a mobile phone cannot be considered universal. And if we remove from them, in particular, accessibility and compactness, then the rest may well correspond to the Soviet Altai system. Consider its features in more detail.
Soviet experience in the development of mobile communications: Altai system
When studying the question of which is the very first mobile phone in the world, it is useful to familiarize yourself with the basic facts about the corresponding communication system. The devices connected to it, in principle, had all the signs of a mobile phone, except for general accessibility. This system, thus:
But it was not publicly available: lists of subscribers were approved at the departmental level. The Altai system was launched in the 60s, and in the 70s it was deployed in more than 100 cities of the USSR. It was actively used during the 1980 Olympics.
There were plans in the USSR for the creation of a mobile communication system, to which everyone could connect. But due to the economic and political difficulties of the mid-late 80s, work on the development of this concept was curtailed.
In post-Soviet Russia, Western standards for cellular communications were introduced. By that time, they had for quite some time provided communications between devices, which could be called full-fledged mobile phones. Let us examine how the corresponding standards developed in the West. This, again, will help us answer the question of where and when did the world’s first mobile phone appear.
US Mobile History
As we noted at the beginning of the article, prototypes of mobile phones in the West began to appear at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 30s and 40s, real developments began to be introduced. In 1933, half-duplex radio transmitters could communicate between New York police cars. In 1946, a mobile network was deployed in Missouri, in which private subscribers could communicate with each other using radio equipment through an operator. In 1948, an infrastructure was launched in Indiana that allows one subscriber to call another already automatically.
Is it possible to say that it was in the USA, in this way, that the world’s first mobile phone was invented? If we consider the above criteria for assigning a radiotelephone to a device of the appropriate type. yes, we can say so, but with reference to later American developments. The fact is that the principles of its functioning of American cellular networks of the 40s were very far from those that characterize modern mobile networks.
Systems like those deployed in Missouri and Indiana in the 1940s had significant frequency and channel limits. This did not allow connecting a sufficiently large number of subscribers to mobile networks at the same time. A solution to this problem was proposed by Bell’s specialist D. Ring, who proposed dividing the territory of the radio signal distribution into cells or cells, which would be formed by special base stations operating at different frequencies. This principle, in general, is implemented by modern mobile operators. The realization of D. Ring’s concept in practice was carried out in 1969.
The history of mobile communications in Europe and Japan
In Western Europe, the first telephone systems using radio equipment were tested in 1951. In the 60s, work in this direction was actively carried out in Japan. It is noteworthy that it was the Japanese developers who established that the optimal frequency for deploying a mobile communications infrastructure is 400 and 900 MHz. Today, these frequencies are among the main ones that are used by mobile operators.
Finland has become one of the leading countries in terms of introducing developments in the field of organizing the functioning of full-fledged cellular networks. In 1971, the Finns began to deploy a commercial cellular network, the coverage area of which by 1978 had reached the size of the whole country. Does this mean that the very first mobile phone in the world, functioning according to modern principles, appeared in Finland? There are certain arguments in favor of this thesis: in particular, the fact that the Finnish telecommunications corporations have deployed the appropriate infrastructure throughout the country, but in accordance with the traditional point of view, such a device has nevertheless appeared in the United States. The main role in this, again, if we consider the popular version, was played by Motorola.
Motorola Cellular Concepts
In the early 70s in the United States there was very fierce competition between suppliers of services and equipment in a promising market segment. in the field of mobile communications. The main rivals here were AT corporationsT and Motorola. At the same time, the first company focused on the deployment of automotive communication systems. by the way, like the telecommunication corporations in Finland, the second. on the introduction of compact devices that anyone could carry with them.
The second concept won, and on its basis, Motorola started the deployment of a cell network using compact devices that is fully functional in the modern sense. The world’s first mobile phone within the Motorola infrastructure, again, in accordance with the traditional approach, was used as a subscriber device in 1973. After 10 years, a full-fledged commercial network was launched in the United States, to which ordinary Americans could connect.
Consider what was the world’s first mobile phone, invented, in accordance with a popular point of view, by the engineers of the American company Motorola.
The first cell phone: specifications
It’s about the Motorola DynaTAC device. He weighed about 1.15 kg. Its size was 22.5 x 12.5 x 3.75 cm. On it were the number keys for dialing, as well as two special buttons for sending a call, as well as ending the conversation. The device had a battery, thanks to which it could function in standby mode for a call for about 8 hours, and in talk mode for about 1 hour. It took more than 10 hours to charge the battery of the first cell phone.
What does the world’s first mobile phone look like? The device photo is below.
Subsequently, Motorola released a number of upgraded versions of the device. If we talk about the commercial Motorola network, the first mobile phone in the world was made for the corresponding infrastructure in 1983.
This is a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X device. This unit weighed about 800 grams, its dimensions were comparable to the first version of the device. It is noteworthy that in his memory 30 subscriber numbers could be stored.
Who invented the first mobile phone?
So, we will try to answer our main question. who invented the world’s first mobile phone. The history of the development of telephone communications using radio equipment suggests that the very first device that fully met the criteria for classifying mobile phones as relevant today was invented by Motorola in the United States and shown to the world in 1973.
However, it will be incorrect to say that this corporation has introduced a fundamentally new development. Mobile phones. in the sense that they were radio equipment and provided communication between subscribers by a unique number. By that time they were used in the USSR, Europe, Japan. If we talk about when the world’s first mobile phone was commercialized, the company that developed it launched the corresponding business in 1983, later than, in particular, similar projects were implemented in Finland.
Thus, Motorola can rightfully be considered the first to offer a mobile phone in the modern sense. in particular, operating on the principle of distributing base stations by cell, and also having a compact format. Thus, if we talk about exactly where the world’s first mobile phone was invented, in which country. as a portable, compact device, which is part of the cellular communications infrastructure, it would be legitimate to determine that the United States became this state.
At the same time, it is worth noting that the Soviet Altai system functioned quite successfully and without the introduction of American-style technologies. Thus, engineers from the USSR have fundamentally proved the possibility of deploying a mobile communications infrastructure on a national, in fact, scale, without using the principles of distribution of base stations by cell.
It is possible that without the economic and political problems of the 80s, the USSR would have introduced its own mobile networks that operate on the basis of concepts alternative to American ones, and they would work no worse. However, it is a fact. today cellular standards are used, developed in the western world, which proposed and commercialized the first mobile phones.
It is worth noting that the Altai system actually worked until 2011. Thus, the Soviet engineering developments for a long time remained relevant, and this may indicate that, perhaps, with the necessary refinement, they could compete with foreign concepts of building a cellular communications infrastructure.
So who invented the world’s first mobile phone? It is difficult to answer this question briefly. If by mobile phone we mean compact subscriber radio equipment integrated with city networks, operating on a cellular basis and accessible to everyone, this is probably the first time this infrastructure has been introduced by the American company Motorola.
If we talk about the first commercial cellular networks. then those, probably, on a statewide scale were introduced in Finland, but with the use of devices oriented to placement in cars. Non-commercial closed mobile networks have also been successfully deployed, in fact, on a national scale, in the USSR.