Little Bits of History

April 3

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2017

1973: Marin Cooper makes a phone call. Cooper, a researcher and executive at Motorola, called Joel Engel of Bell Labs using the first mobile handheld telephone able to use subscriber equipment. The phone he used weighed 2.4 pounds, was nine inches long, five inches deep, and nearly two inches wide. It took ten hours to recharge and offered thirty minutes of talk time per charge. Mobile phones are different from radios in that they connect wirelessly to the public switched telephone network. Voice over radio waves had been possible for far longer. The first claim to have created a wireless phone came in 1908, but the claimants were accused of fraud, charges were later dropped.

By 1918 Germany had wireless phones on military trains between Berlin and Zossen and by 1924 the practice became public and then grew in range. Mobile phones were often depicted in science fiction works and they were smaller and commonplace. By World War II, hand-held radio transceivers were available and phones could be placed into cars, using the power system there. They were bulky and uncommon, with the system unable to handle many calls. Bell Labs began mobile phone service for phones within cars on June 17, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. AT&T soon followed. Most mobile phones were incompatible and service was very limited.

European development was also taking place. In the USSR, Leonid Kupriyanovich developed a phone which fit into the palm of one’s hand and weighed only 2.5 ounces. Instead, they went with development of a car phone system. The infrastructure to carry the signals was an integral aspect of developing the phones themselves. Without the ability to carry signals to faraway places, the phones were not worth the cost. But with more users, a larger infrastructure was needed to carry increased load.

The networks built to carry traffic have steadily increased in size and scope as well as dependability and power. Today’s 4G or fourth generation network needed to adapt to changing use of phones which were now “smart” and able to carry more than phone calls. The streaming of media and the bandwidth-intensive applications installed on modern smart phones made a data-optimized, speed-enhanced system necessary. This was done by eliminating circuit switching and using an all-IP network which was the first time voice transmission was treated like streaming audio media and used packet switching over the internet.

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone. – Steven Spielberg

I think most people in the developed world would admit to carrying some sort of handheld device, whether it’s a laptop or a cell phone, at all times. – Alexis Denisof

Now we’re e-mailing and tweeting and texting so much, a phone call comes as a fresh surprise. I get text messages on my cell phone all day long, and it warbles to alert me that someone has sent me a message on Facebook or a reply or direct message on Twitter, but it rarely ever rings. – Susan Orlean

The technology is just so far gone. It’s just like back in the day you needed a suitcase just to have a cell phone. The battery was so heavy, it was like carrying a gallon of soda around with you all day. – Jam Master Jay

One Ringy-Dingy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2010

British phone booth and Big Ben

April 22, 2000: The United Kingdom’s telephone services are updated with corresponding changes in telephone numbering systems. Because of the proliferation of phone lines and the need for more numbers to satisfy the demand, phone numbering was changed from a seven number to an eight number system as well as Code Area numbers being changed.

The world is shrinking because of instant communication. That communication is based on telephone systems. Many people have more than one phone number – land lines, cell phones, and even fax numbers. Businesses have many phone lines and fax numbers as well. Each telephone number needs to be individualized. As the demand for more lines increased, the scarcity of numbers became apparent.

Cell or mobile phones were first proposed in December 1947 by Bell Labs engineers Douglas H Ring and W. Rae Young. The technology went undeveloped until the 1960s when Bell Labs (Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel) produced the electronics. However, prototypes were available in the 1950s but in very limited use. Motorola and Bell Labs joined forces to be filmed making calls to each other on the streets of New York City in 1973 in a media event. The first generation of mobile telephony was up and running. The second generation followed in the 1990s and we are now on the third or 3G. More than 2.5 billion people use cell phones today.

Increased need for phone numbers was an ongoing problem and the first migration to the new system was in 1995 when the UK implemented PhONEday changes which provided a pool of 9 billion numbers. Migration from the old to new system had taken place in stages, with this being the final stage. UK phone numbers changed on this date. Land lines were changed immediately and were no longer functional, while mobile phones in the UK worked for another year. Businesses were also granted some extension of time due to costs incurred [i.e. stationery, business cards, brochures and catalogs] by the changing system.

“Some one invented the telephone,
And interrupted a nation’s slumbers,
Ringing wrong but similar numbers.” – Ogden Nash

“TELESCOPE, n. A device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice.” – Ambrose Bierce

“The telephone book is full of facts, but it doesn’t contain a single idea.” – Mortimer Adler

“Tell me about yourself — your struggles, your dreams, your telephone number.” – Peter Arno

Also on this day, in 1970 Earth Day was first celebrated.