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Where Did Those Cell Phones Come From?
by: D Ruplinger

In 1949 the first car phone service was introduced. It was called “Mobile Telephone Service” (MTS). But the beginning of wireless communication started many years earlier, in 1895, when an Italian physicist named Guglielmo Marconi successfully sent wireless signals a distance of one and one half miles.

In 1896 Marconi was granted the world’s first patent for a wireless telegraphy system. In 1897 he formed The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. During that same year he successfully sent wireless signals a distance of twelve miles.

In 1901 Marconi proved the curve of the earth did not affect the successful sending of wireless waves. He proved it by transmitting signals from Cornwall, England to St. John’s, Newfoundland, which was a distance of over two thousand miles.

Marconi, along with other scientists and researchers, continued to work and do research on wireless transmissions. In 1932 the world’s first microwave radiotelephone link was established between the Pope’s summer home in the small Italian town of Caster Gandolfo and Vatican City, a distance of approximately thirty miles.

The first ship-to-shore radio conversation took place in 1922 from the ship S.S. America, which was 400 miles at sea. Inter-continent telephone communications between the United States and England occurred in the mid 1930’s.

As technology improved, interest in a car phone service developed. The first car phone service that was introduced in 1949 was a mobile service, but the equipment was big and heavy. The phone required a large receiver (about the size of a large piece of luggage). It was placed in the trunk of the vehicle. To talk on the phone, a button had to be pushed. To listen to the other person, the button had to be released. It was similar to using a two-way radio. A person couldn’t talk and listen at the same time. That technology came later.

Phone calls from the first mobile phone service were not direct-dialed. Instead, an operator working for the mobile phone service company answered when the phone was picked up. The operator connected the caller to the phone company operator, who then placed the call. By the early 1960’s the technology had improved, but only slightly. One step in the connection process was eliminated. The phone was able to connect directly to the phone company, saving the caller the step of having to connect to the mobile phone service operator first. The improved service was called “Improved Mobile Telephone Service” or IMTS.

By the early part of the 1980’s the phones had full-duplex capability. This meant a person could listen and talk at the same time. The phones and receivers were still heavy though. And, because the IMTS phones were a type of scanner, it wasn’t unusual for a person to press a channel button on the phone and hear parts of someone else’s conversation.

Technology continued to improve and continues to improve today. Cell phones are very popular. Today they are a truly mobile device and are easy to transport. Some of the cell phones available today only weigh a few ounces. Some of the small cell phones can be tricky to use though because the buttons on them are very small.

Cellular technology continues to improve. In the United States, carriers have been moving from analog technology to digital technology. One big reason the move to digital technology has been made in recent years is because it allows networks to carry more callers at one time. Calls are also more secure on digital networks, but are still far from being totally secure.

Today, people experience fewer dropped calls, and with the expansion of networks, there are getting to be fewer areas where there is no reception at all. And although many younger people are choosing to have cell phone over a land line phone, there are still many people who are not yet willing to give up their land line phones.

About The Author

D Ruplinger is a featured writer for For more information about cell phones, cell phone plans, and cell phone service providers, visit

This article was posted on December 06, 2005


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