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In 1973, Motorola was the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone. Mobile phones had been around for more than 30 years prior to that, but they had been installed in vehicles.

The phone system was called 'cellular' because the system uses many base stations to divide a service area into multiple 'cells'. Cellular calls are transferred from base station to base station as a user travels from cell to cell.

Because cellular phones are a kind of two-way radio, the FCC was slow to allow widespread development and the use of the "airways".

In 1982, the FCC finally authorized commercial cellular service for the US. A year later, the first American commercial analog cellular service was made available in Chicago by Ameritech.

In 1983, we began seeing the occasional person in a big city with his "brick phone", such as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X as pictured to the left. It became the first cell phone to be offered commercially in 1984. It weighed 1.75 pounds, stood 13" tall, offered 30 minutes of talk time, 8 hours of standby, and a LED display for dialing or recall of one of 30 phone numbers. And it took 10 hours to recharge! It was priced at $3,995.

In 1989, we saw that which was the first truly portable phone. That first phone was the Motorola MicroTAC 9800X, as pictured to the right.

The first digital hand-sized mobile phone was the Motorola International 3200, released in 1992, as shown to the left. (That's hand-sized if your hand is a bit over 7 1/2" tall.)

The first mass-produced phone was the Nokia 1011, produced until 1994. It's the first popular cell phone we'd recognize as looking similar to what we now have. (Pictured to right.) It was about 7 2/3" long by 2 1/3" wide and 1 3/4" thick. It featured a monochrome LCD display and an extendable antenna. The memory could hold 99 phone numbers.

The first PDA/phone combo was the BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator in 1993. 1996 brought us the first clamshell cell phone, the Motorola StarTAC. That year also brought us the "banana phone", the Nokia 8110.

The first smart phone was the Nokia 9000 Communicator also in 1996. After that, features such as touchscreens, keyboards, ability to play MP3s, Bluetooth capability, color screens, GPS, built-in cameras, email functions and Wi-Fi have, of course, become commonplace.

Cellphone technology has merged with that of computers and we're now seeing wearable devices, cars featuring the latest features and so much more. We can only guess at what changes our phones will have over the next 40 years!

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