Can you believe it's been 40 years since the invention of the first cellphone? This calls for a celebration!
Can you believe it was 1973 when Motorola executive Martin Cooper made the first public cellphone call from a noisy Manhattan street? Normally unflappable New Yorkers gaped. A photographer circled him. In this historic moment, whom would Cooper call? He punched in the number for his chief rival, a Bell Laboratories research engineer named Joel Engel. “Joel! This is Marty Cooper. I’m calling you on a cellphone. But a real cellphone. A personal, portable handheld cellphone.”
Had they been making an episode of That ’70's Show back then, here’s where the Ashton Kutcher character would have burst through Engel’s door and yelled, “Burn!” But rivalry aside, who better to share such a moment? Cooper’s folks would have been proud, but did they get the principles of cellular telephony? Would they get what it really meant to take that concept—conceived by Bell Labs, incidentally—and use it to call them from outdoors? Cooper and Engel must have shared a pure moment of understanding. They were two of very few who understood this new device beyond the initial Whoa!