DEL MAR: The problem with cell phones is that people look at them too much. At least, that’s according to the man who invented them 50 years ago.
Martin Cooper, an American engineer dubbed the “Father of the Cell Phone”, said the compact device we all have in our pockets has almost limitless potential and even a may one day help control disease.
But right now, we can get a little obsessed.
“It breaks my heart when I see someone cross the street and look at their cell phone. They’ve lost their minds,” the 94-year-old told AFP from his office in Del Mar, California.
“But after a few people get hit by a car, they’ll figure it out,” he joked.
Cooper wears an Apple Watch and uses a top-of-the-line iPhone, scrolling through email, photos, YouTube, and hearing aid controls intuitively.
He’ll get his hands on the latest model every time it’s updated and give it a thorough test drive on the road.
Still, he admits, with millions of apps available, it can all feel a bit overwhelming.
He said: “I will never understand how to use a cell phone like my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Cooper’s iPhone – which he says he likes to use mainly to talk to people – is certainly a long way from the heavy mass of wires and circuits he used to make the call. made the first cell phone call on April 3, 1973.
At the time, he was working for Motorola, leading a team of designers and engineers that were engaged in a sprint to create the first suitable mobile technology and avoid being left out of the market. developing.
The company invested millions of dollars in the project in hopes of defeating Bell System, the giant that had dominated the US telecommunications industry for more than a century since its founding in 1877.
Bell engineers came up with the idea of a cell phone system shortly after the Second World War, and by the late 1960s the idea had gone as far as putting telephones in cars – partly as a because they need huge batteries.
But for Cooper, that doesn’t represent true mobility.
In late 1972, he decided he wanted a device that you could use anywhere.
So with all of Motorola’s resources, he brought together experts in semiconductors, transistors, filters and antennas who worked around the clock for three months.
At the end of March, they cracked it, releasing the DynaTAC – Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage phone.
“The phone weighs a little over a kilogram – about two and a half pounds – and has about 25 minutes of talk time battery life,” he said.
“That’s not a problem. The phone is so heavy you can’t hold it for 25 minutes.”
That first phone call doesn’t have to be long. It just needs to work.