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It has been 40 years since Motorola engineer Marty Cooper called a colleague at a rival company from his “real cellular phone.”

That was 1983. 40 years ago.

This DynaTac cell phone was one of  Motorola's first mobile phones
This DynaTac cell phone was one of Motorola’s first mobile phones

In 1983, I was learning to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64 Computer. Gasoline was $1.24 a gallon, and a postage stamp cost just 20 cents.

In 1983 I was renting my landline phone from the monopoly phone company. It had a rotary dial. It was tied to the wall by a cord. It weighed about 9 pounds. It was my choice of black.

(To be fair, I could have selected a white  or pink trimline phone for an added fee.)

Here are three lessons that I have learned from the Mobile Phone

  1. The mobile phone changed the paradigm– that phone numbers had to be associated with a place or location, rather than an individual. This change to  the service being tied  to an individual rather than just a build out as infrastructure was a powerful force in the market. Today 6 billion people have mobile phones. There are 7 billion people on the planet.
  2. Technology always improves over time. Getting smaller, and more powerful, and including more features. This means that when we purchase technology, we need to consider that its utility will indeed be for a limited time. Newer and improved models will make today’s investment non competitive. So estimating useful life and cost over that time period is essential. The product cycle cannot be denied.
  3. Technology will be initially adopted by business, but ultimately will find its highest and best use enabling consumers. Business adoption is a necessary step to create a sustainable ecosystem for  the technology. The discipline of ROI, costs and benefits provide a darwinian gauntlet that prepares the industry for its next expansion round into the consumer markets. But first, utility and benefits have to be demonstrated.

In 1983 my phone  did not take photos. High-Def movies. or allow me to play games with friends or do calculations  or write notes or …

iphone 5

Nor did I expect it to!

What a difference 40 years has made!

That is why wise businessmen stay up on new and emerging technologies.

New and emerging technologies change the world.

Don’t believe me?

Just call any of the 6 billion other folks on the planet with their own mobile phone.

Marty Cooper BBC

iPhone 5

3 thoughts on “3 Lessons from the Mobile Phone

  1. speakingofprecision says:

    You’re right! It was 40th anniversary, should have been 1973. I hate it when that happens! Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Glad to help. I enjoy your posts. My attention to this was a bit selfish. I graduated high school in ’83 and was in no way ready for a 40th reunion.

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