By: Robert Downie
Do you remember back when you actually had to read the newspaper or watch the television in order to stay connected to all of the current news? I do, and it really wasn’t very long ago… or was it?
“In 1993, IBM Simon was introduced. This was possibly the world's first smartphone.” (Wikipedia) This phone contained options that truly started us down the smartphone path. This was the phone that created a cultural change in the way that people access their news and how they connect with others. By 2012, 62% of smartphone owners viewed news on their device every single week and in 2014, 90% of adults now owned a smartphone (Duggan). So how did we get here? What did we learn along the way?
Cell Phone Service History
It is clear that the ongoing advancements in this cell phone technology have dramatically changed our lives. Let’s take a look back through the history of analog and digital cellular service to see how we arrived to where we are today.
Cell phones are a relatively new technology, but the idea of portable phone communication has been around for quite some time. Portable communication devices were originally used in the military. They used radio technology to communicate between multiple vehicles during World War II.
The technology was developed in the 1950’s but it was too expensive for the average consumer to enjoy. Dr. Martin Cooper is the person credited with both inventing the modern cell phone as well as making the first call in New York City in April 1973. (Wikipedia)
The first generation of cellular networks (analog) paved the way to the networks we know and use today. Use of multiple cell tower sites, each connected through a network, allowed users to travel and even switch cell towers during a call. It was a revolution built on existing, analog technology with the first being built in Chicago in 1977. The Analog Mobile Phone System (AMPS) was built by AT&T and it took over 10 years for the FCC to approve it.
The Japanese were not very far behind as they built their own network in 1979. Five years later it became the first 1G network to cover an entire country. In 1981, the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) network started operating in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, it was the first to feature international roaming. Later, in March of 1983, the first 1G network in North America was launched by Ameritech. It cost over $100 million to develop and it took more than 10 years to reach the entire market. (Wikipedia)
These first analog systems came with its share of issues. They were unsecured, and therefore, they were very vulnerable to being scanned by others. In addition, they required a significant amount of wireless spectrum to support its operation.
Due to growing demand and advancement in technology, Digital AMPS was released in 1990. This release is also known as 2G. This upgrade in technology allowed for something new and exciting, SMS messaging. Shortly thereafter, we saw the release of pre-paid cell phones. In 1993, IBM Simon was introduced. It contained things that are standard today such as a calendar, address book, notepad, email, and a touchscreen. Later, the second generation of the IBM Simon added in texting.
“The first machine-generated SMS message was sent in the UK on 3 December 1992 followed in 1993 by the first person-to-person SMS sent in Finland.” (Wikipedia) NTT DoCoMo pioneered the first mobile Internet service in Japan in 1999 on existing 2G technologies. (Brookes) In October 2001, the world’s first 3G network was released. In order to meet demand other countries quickly followed.
The 3G technology really changed the mobile phone industry. This technology allowed users to enjoy widespread internet service, and streaming services like television and radio. This was when the smartphone really took off. In 2005, the 3G platform had evolved with new enhancements such as high-speed downlink packet