All About the Telephone and Mobile Phone

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Today we cannot imagine life without our smart phone devices, but the mobile phone as we know it today is relatively new.

Ring ring who’s there?

The telephone with a fixed line was invented in Scotland by Alexander Graham Bell. He said the first words ever spoken into a telephone. He rang his assistant Thomas Watson in the room next door and said, “Mr Watson – come here. I want to see you. And bring the Sunny D”. Okay, we may have made that last bit up. A US patent to make phones was issued in Kentucky in 1908.

Hands-free at last 

Mobile phones were invented as early as the 1940s when engineers at AT&T developed two-way radios. The idea was that emergency services could communicate, without the need to go through a base station. Instead, one very powerful base station could cover a much wider area.

In 1973 an employee called Martin Cooper working at the company Motorola came up with the idea for a mobile phone. Before that there were phones in cars, but his was a truly portable phone. Yes, it was as large as a brick! Cooper made the first ever phone call using a mobile in April 1973. Motorola went on to become the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone for general use.

From 1984 the mobile began to be called a ‘cell phone’ because of the way the phone works. Mobile phone masts serve a specific area, divided up into cells. Each cell connects to the next cell to ensure continuous connection. Of course this does not guarantee coverage as it relies on a mast covering the area. There are still some parts of the UK where users struggle to get a signal, or can only use a mobile phone outdoors.

These early mobile phones are often referred to as 0G or Zero Generation. First Generation (1G) was introduced in the 1980s. Now most phones use third generation (3g) or fourth generation (4G) technology. Today there are more mobile phones in the world than there are people!

Fun Facts about Phones

  • The original greeting suggested by Alexander Graham Bell was to answer the telephone with the word ‘Ahoy’. Later Thomas Edison modified this to ‘Hello’.
  • The average person unlocks their phone 100 times a day.
  • The first mobile phone cost $4000 to buy in 1983.
  • India has more mobile phones per person than any other country.
  • The number of mobile phones in the world overtook the number of people in 2014.
  • Japan was the first country to have a mobile phone network that covered an entire city (Tokyo).
  • The first SMS text message was sent in 1993. This year, worldwide, we will send an astonishing 8.3 trillion text messages - almost 16 million messages per minute. 
  • The average smart phone has more computing power than the computer used for the Apollo 11 moon landing.