DynaTAC, The First Portable Phone


The first mobile device was the efforts that began at Bell Labs. It was the first that proposed the idea of a cellular system in 1947, and continued to petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for channels through the 1950s and 1960s, and research conducted at Motorola.

In 1960, electrical engineer John F. Mitchell was appointed as Motorola's chief engineer for its mobile communication products. He was the one that oversaw the development and marketing of the first pager to use transistors.

Motorola then developed mobile devices that could be fitted in cars. The devices were large and heavy enough that they couldn't be used without the car's engine running.

This was when Mitchell's team, which included Martin Cooper, developed the first portable cellular telephony. When Bell Labs worked on the system called AMPS, others designed mobile phones for that and other cellular systems. Cooper then led a team that produced the DynaTAC 8000x, the first commercially available mobile phone that was small enough to be carried around.

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X received approval from the U.S. FCC on September 21, 1983.

Cooper was also the first person to make an analog cellular mobile phone call on a prototype in 1973. He was considered the key developer of the mobile phone.

Martin Cooper

DynaTAC was the first ever mobile phone. Released in the U.S. in 1984, its retail price was at $3,995. When Mitchell retired, mobile phones and associated services made up two thirds of Motorola's $30 billion in revenue.

Several DynaTAC models followed, starting in 1985 with the 8000s, and continuing with periodic updates of increasing frequency until the Classic II model in 1993. Throughout the era, the DynaTAC was featured regularly in the news and mass media. It was the symbol of wealth and futurism.