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A Love-Hate Relationship Turns 30

Techstination feature for Thursday, April 3, 2003

A love-hate relationship turns thirty years old. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It's the 30th anniversary of the portable cell phone. On April 3rd, 1973 Martin Cooper who headed a team at Motorola... placed the first public call from the streets of New York to a rival at Bell Labs...

"We had built what amounted to a cell right in the middle of New York, right next to the Hilton Hotel and went out onto the street to test out this equipment. And I dialed a phone number, happened to be the number of my counterpart at AT&T, who was in charge of building the AT&T version of this system, a guy named Dr. Joel Engel. And I called Joel up and told him Joel, I'm calling you from a real cellular telephone... and it's portable and I'm walking down the streets of New York."

The next time a phone rings in a movie theater, you'll know whom to blame. Cooper says AT&T had been focusing on building cell phones that weren't portable, that could only be used in vehicles. From that point it took a decade for the first commercial cell phones to arrive... at a pretty steep price...

"When commercial service service started for cellular, a portable cellular phone cost 35 hundred dollars."

Cooper today is chairman and CEO of ArrayComm, a San Diego based company developing systems to deliver high speed wireless Internet access. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.