When we took a seat on a long-distance train journey recently, I was irritated to discover that I’d left my wallet at home. What really made me panic, though, was the realization that I’d also left behind my mobile phone. Two hors without communication or music: how was I ever going to survive?

And yet, as little as two or three decades ago, modern mobile devices such as these belonged to the realms of science fiction. Who would have though it possible to bank, shop, watch movies, and listen to music and much more from something as minuscule as today’s portable electronic products? Yet as with any technological development, the outcome for us all can be as damaging as it is beneficial. The instantaneous nature with which we receive so many products and services is truly astounding. In the case of music and literature, to name just two, you can carry in the palm of you’re the same amount of books and music that would have once been crammed into an entire room.

Communication via phone, text, messaging, email, video calls enables us to try a million and one ways to track someone down. Yet it is this very method of communication that is dramatically transforming our society into something almost unrecognizable. Younger generations have always sought to differentiate themselves from what preceded them, and classic examples of this are clothing or music revolutions. Now this platform literally enables entire sectors of society to isolate itself from another, and to some extent can be seen to be causing factions within society.

Seldom would anyone with a love of culture argue that having the world of literature and music at your fingertips is in anyway a treacherous path down which society is heading. Yet, whilst we embrace aspects of this technological revolution, we do feel it is having a detrimental impact on something that sets man apart from other species: the ability to converse.

This blog mainly focuses on this issue. We have divided it into several parts. First of all, there is a little introduction about the subject. After this, we have explained briefly the history of telephone services: from the old and hardly useful 0G to nowadays technology: 4G. Next, we provide a chronology of key developments in the evolution of mobile phones. To conclude, we have expressed our opinion about how this revolution affects on our daily life in a little deliberation with a video attached discussing this matter.



Phones have gotten so complicated, so hard to use, that you wonder if this is designed for real people or for engineers

Martin Cooper, cell phone inventor.

The history of mobile phones charts the development of devices which connect wirelessly to the public switched telephone network. The transmission of speech by radio has a long and varied history going back to Reginald Fessenden’s invention and demonstration of radio telephony, through the Second World War with military use of radio telephony links. Early devices were bulky and consumed high power and the network supported only a few simultaneous conversations. Modern cellular networks allow automatic and pervasive use of mobile phones for voice and data communications.

In the United States, engineers from Bell Labs began working on a system to allow mobile users to place and receive telephone calls from automobiles, leading to the inauguration of mobile service on 17 June 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after, AT&T offered Mobile Telephone Service. A wide range of mobile telephone services offered limited coverage area and only a few available channels in urban areas. The introduction of cellular technology made widespread adoption of mobile telephones economically feasible.

The advances in mobile telephony can be traced in successive generations from the early “0G” services like MTS and its successor Improved Mobile Telephone Service, to first generation (1G) analog cellular network, second generation (2G) digital cellular networks, third generation (3G) broadband data services to the current state of the art, fourth generation (4G), IP networks.

Motorola was the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone. On 3 April 1973 Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer and
executive, made the first mobile telephone call from handheld subscriber equipment in front of reporters, placing a call to Dr. Joel S.Engel of Bell Labs. 

Forty years later, a company named Apple sells 125 million phones around the world. This phone, that would have seem a mere imagination to our grandparents, not only allows to make calls or text. It allow us to do everything you could ever imagine with something as “simple” as a 4 inches touchscreen.

Brief history of mobile phones Early Services – 0G


From its start in St. Louis in 1946, AT&T introduced Mobile Telephone Service to one hundred towns and highways by 1948. Mobile Telephone Service was a rarity with only 5,000 customers placing about 30,000 calls each week. Calls were set up manually by an operator and the equipment weighed about 80 pounds.

Subscriber growth was hampered by the limitations of the technology. Because only three radio channels were available, only three customers could make mobile telephone calls at one time. Mobile Telephone Service was expensive, costing equivalent to about $176 per month and $3.50 to $4.75 per call in 2012 dollars.


AT&T introduced the first major improvement to mobile telephony in 1965, creating the Improved Mobile Telephone Service. IMTS allowed more simultaneous calls in a given geographic area, introduced customer dialing, and reduced the size and weight of the equipment.

European mobile radio networks

In Europe, several mutually incompatible mobile radio services were developed. West Germany  had a network called A-Netz launched in 1952 as the country’s first public mobile phone network. In 1972 this was displaced by B-Netz which connected calls automatically.

Cellular concepts

Philip T. Porter of Bell Labs first proposed that the cell towers use the directional antennas to reduce interference and increase channel reuse.

Handheld mobile phone

Prior to 1973, mobile telephony was limited to phones installed in cars and other vehicles. Motorola was the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone on 3 April 1973, when Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, made the first mobile telephone call from handheld subscriber equipment, placing a call to Dr. Joel S. Engel, from Bell Labs. The prototype handheld phone used by Dr. Cooper weighed 2.5 pounds and measured 9 inches long, 5 inches deep and 1.75 inches wide. It offered a talk time of just 30 minutes and took 10 hours to re-charge.

John F.Mitchell, Motorola’s chief of portable communication products and Martin Cooper’s boss in 1973, played a key role in advancing the development of handheld mobile telephone equipment. Mitchell successfully pushed Motorola to develop wireless communication products that would be small enough to use anywhere and participated in the design of the cellular phone.

1G, 2G and 3G

Analog cellular networks – 1G

The first analog cellular system widely deployed in North America was the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS). It was commercially introduced in the Americas in 1978, Israel in 1986, and Australia in 1987.

Digital cellular networks – 2G

In the 1990s, the ‘second generation’ mobile phone systems emerged. It differed from the previous generation by using digital instead of analog transmission. The rise in mobile phone usage as a result of 2G was explosive and this era also saw the advenet of prepaid mobile phones. 

In 1993, IBM Simon was introduced. This was possibly the world’s first smartphone. It was a mobile phone, pager, fax machine, and PDA all rolled into one. It included a calendar, address book, clock, calculator, notepad, email, and a touchscreen with a QWERTY keyboard. Surprisingly, it also had apps.

The second generation introduced a new variant of communication called SMS or text messaging that was eventually on all digital networks.  The beginning of prepaid services in the late 1990s soon made SMS the communication method of choice amongst the young, a trend which spread across all ages. 2G also introduced the ability to access media content on mobile phones.

Mobile broadband data – 3G

As the use of 2G phones became more widespread and people began to utilize mobile phones in their daily lives, it became clear that demand for data services (such as access to the internet) was growing. Furthermore, experience from fixed broadband services showed there would also be an ever increasing demand for greater data speeds. The 2G technology was nowhere near up to the job, so the industry began to work on the next generation of technology known as 3G.

The high connection speeds of 3G technology enabled a transformation in the industry: for the first time, media streaming of radio (and even television) content to 3G handsets became possible.

Although mobile phones had long had the ability to access data networks such as the Internet, it was not until the widespread availability of good quality 3G coverage in the mid-2000s that specialized devices appeared to access the mobile internet.

Cell phone evolution

Mobile phones have become a crucial part of our daily life nowadays. Everyone – from teenagers to old men – has a personal cell phone of their own. But the mobile phones we see now didn’t look like this earlier, instead they were something totally different, something you wouldn’t even think of having around you or using.

Improved technology has made a great change in the history of mobile phones, transforming the huge brick-like mobile phones of 1995 to sleek and stylish smartphones we carry with us now. Let’s take a ride back to the past and look at how cellphones developed from the bulky walkie-talkie look to today’s swipe-savvy descendants.

As we said, cell phones have evolved immensely since 1983, both in design and function. From the Motorola DynaTAC, that power symbol that Michael Douglas wielded so forcefully in the movie “Wall Street”, to the iPhone 3G, which can take a picture, play a video, or run one of the thousands applications available from the Apple Store.

There are thousands of models of cell phones that have hit the streets between 1983 and now. We’ve picked a few of the more popular and unusual ones to take you through the history of this device that most of us consider a part of our everyday lives.

We have tried, wherever possible, to include the most popular phones and the phones that were “firsts” for a particular feature, but may have missed out on your favourite phones due to the sheer number of models that are out there.

The list does not include any phones that were not portable handhelds. Car phones and some handhelds that were the size of a small briefcase were in use in the 1970′s and 1980′s, but since this is more about design than function we chose not to include them here.

The Evolution of Cell Phone Design Between 1983-2012

1983:  the first cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, is released. 

It took 10 years for the first cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, to hit stores. This thing retailed for $3,995, all but assuring that only the one percent and Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell could afford it.

Motorola DynaTAC 8000X

1989: Motorola releases the first pocket size cell phone in 1989.

Finally someone realized that an important part of having a cell phone is portability. Not only did the Motorola MicroTAC get rave reviews for its size, but also for its battery life (75 minutes) and price ($2,995).

This was the first truly portable phone. Up until its release, most cellular phones were installed as car phones due to the inability to fit them into a jacket pocket.

Motorola MicroTAC 9800X

1992: The first digital hand-size mobile telephone is released by Motorola

Motorola International 3200Nokia also produced the the first mass-produced GSM phone. It was produced until 1994.

Nokia 1011

1994: The first smartphone drops back in 1994.

Though the term “Smartphone” wasn’t even thought of yet, the first smartphone dropped back in 1994. It was the IBM Simon Personal Communicator and it retailed for $1,100 dollars without a contract.

BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator

1996: we get the first clamshell phone.

Motorola’s clamshell StarTRAC phone, which cost a stack when it was released, was super popular because of how small it was and the fact that you could fold it in half. Also one of the first display screens featured on a cell.

Motorola StarTAC

Moreover, Nokia released  the alternately called the “banana phone”, this phone was popularized in the first Matrix movie.

Nokia 8110

1997: The Nokia 9000i Communicator is the first phone to feature a full keyboard. 

Wait, so is it a computer or a phone? People back in 1997 must have been so confused when the first phone to feature a keyboard was released. It was the first smartphone series, driven by an Intel 386 CPU.

Nokia 9000 Communicator

1998: Nokia debuts the first cell phone to feature an internal antenna.

Pulling out those huge antennas used to be so annoying. That all stopped when Nokia dropped the 8810, the first cell phone to have an internal antenna. Those three seconds wasted pulling the antenna is so crucial. OH! And it also featured the super awesome Snake game.

Nokia 8810

1999: we finally get a phone with the Internet.

The Internet was not reallky good…but, it was something. Who knew that ten years later we would all get to the point where we could watch TV on our mobile device?

Nokia 7110

They also released Nokia 8210. 

This phone was loved for its customizable design, but hated for its screen fade.

Nokia 8210

2000: Ericsson emerges as a cell phone company.

The R380 featured a black and white touchscreen, partially covered by a flip.

Ericsson R380

2001: The boom of cell phones

Nokia 5510 featured a full QWERTY keyboard. It could also store up to 64mb of music.

Nokia 5510

Ericsson releases the tiny handset, Ericsson T39, which was the first Bluetooth-capable phone.

Ericsson T39

2002: the first Blackberry is released in the States, RIM Blackberry 5810.

Though the Blackberry was around in other countries back in the late ’90s, the popular Smartphone didn’t make its splash over USA until 2002. And yes, unfortunately, it was freezing up just as efficiently back in 2002.

RIM Blackberry 5810

Also, Sony Ericsson exposes the first smartphone featuring a touchscreen and up to 128mb of memory.

Sony Ericsson P800

The first cameraphone drops in 2002 too.

There was a time where people didn’t understand why a cell phone needed a camera. That was until the Santo SCP-5300 dropped. Now, the cameras on phones have a professional quality. Amazing.

 Sanyo SCP-5300

2003: A true revolution

Nokia’s answer to the Game Boy advance , Nokia N-Gage, this phone/games system had a couple of award winning titles before it succumbed to its clunky interface design.

Nokia N-Gag
With BlackBerry 7210, BlackBerry releases the first Smartphone with colour screen.

BlackBerry 7210

2004: Motorola drops the first Razr phone.

With its slim, sleek style, the Razor V3 was the perfect phone for the fashionable people out there.

Motorola Razor V3

Nokia puts on sell the first cell phone to allow for global roaming, the Nokia 6630.

Nokia 6630

2005: The first 3G phones.

One of the first 3G phones, the Nokia 6680 was considered to be high end at the time of its release.

Nokia 6680HTC Universal was the first 3G Pocket PC phone at HTC and the first to come with Windows Mobile.

HTC Universal

2006: Smartphone revolution

This immensely popular smartphone has sold millions of models worldwide, and is still in wide use as of 2009: Nokia N73

 Nokia N73

The BlackBerry Pearl, the first design-conscious entry from RIM, the Pearl is still being offered on the market today.
BlackBerry Pearl

LG releases one of the first well-designed phones made for mass market use, LG Chocolate.

LG Chocolate KG800

2007: Apple crushes everything by releasing the iPhone.

Do we even really have to say anything about this phone? You know how ill this phone is. When it was released, it was like something out of the future.

The original iPhone was released in June 2007 with an auto-rotate sensor, a multi-touch sensor that allowed multiple inputs while ignoring minor touches, a touch interface that replaced the traditional QWERTY keyboards, and many other features that helped to give Apple an almost instant healthy market share on its release.


LG sells a phone firmly focused on visuals. DivX Certified playback and 5 megapixel digital camera with Schneider Kreuznach optics are just a couple of the features of this simply designed phone.

LG Viewty

2008: iPhone 3G

The iPhone 3G was made even more desirable by all the apps that could be purchased for it in the AppStore when it was released in July of 2008.

 Iphone 3G


From 2007 to nowadays, Apple has released a new Iphone model each year: Iphone 3GS in 2009, Iphone 4 in 2010, Iphone 4S in 2011 and, finally, the worldwide expected Iphone 5 in 2012. Each of them presents a new aspectand tons of improvements that have made of Apple the leading company in techonology and celular phones. Front camera, FaceTime, touchscreen and an infinite numbers of apps are some of the advantages that Iphones present versus the other companies.


Iphone Evolution

Through this list we can see how phones have changed as the years have gone by and how this affects our lifestyle. Nowadays, it’s imposible for us to imagine to not own a phone. Besides, we totally depend on them.


Well, to conclude, mobile phone revolution has changed our lives. Before, not everybody owned a phoned and those who did could only call and, much later, text with them. Now, thanks to the technological advances in this field, apart from having the basic functions of a phone, you can play, take profesional photographs with them, you can record videos, share them, text, connect to social networks, watch TV, listen to music and an infinity of things. For a lot of people, this fact has led to an addiction, as they need to be connected 24/7. There have even been created some detox centres specialized in healing this addiction to phones and the services this product provides (texting, social networks…).

Finally, with this video, we want to emphasize the fact that technology has made our lives much easier in a lot of aspects. Nevertheless, a bad use or even an abuse of these new technologies can alter us and our way of living.


This is, indeed, an authentic digital revolution.