Justin Bieber’s phone may never ring and texting and messaging may have started to take the place of voice calls, but back on April 4, 1973 a man named Marty Cooper wasn’t taking the voice call feature on the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x for granted. On that day, 40 years ago, Cooper, who was a Motorola engineer, placed the first public call from a cellphone.
Standing in midtown Manhattan, Cooper decided to dial up rival Joel Engel, who was the head of Bell Labs research department. According to The Verge, Cooper said, “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone.” He also said, “I’m ringing you just to see if my call sounds good at your end.”
The phone was nine inches tall and weighed 28 ounces. The iPhone 5, by way of comparison, weighs 3.95 ounces and is .30 inches thick. It took ten years after Cooper placed that call for the cellphone to reach the masses; Motorola didn’t start selling the DynaTAC until 1983. Of course, the rest is history. Now our cellphones have started to replace our cameras, computers, books and, yes, even voice calls.