We tell you the history of the cell phone or mobile phone, what are the different generations up to today and their characteristics.

history of the cell phone
The cell phone is an independent telecommunication device.

The history of the cell phone

The history of the cell phone, cell phone or mobile phone, is the sequence of developments, technological innovations and scientific discoveries that have allowed the creation of mobile phones. It also includes its evolution over time to become the multifaceted tools we use today.

cell phone is an independent telecommunication device. It allows you to perform various operations such as calls, text messages and, more recently, access to the Internet and various digital applications. It is an indispensable device in today’s world, whose history shows the great technological changes that societies have undergone since the end of the 20th century.

See also: History of the Internet

cell phone background

cell phone history - radio
For the cell phone to be created, the invention of the radio was necessary.

Long before the cell phone, Telephones were invented by Antonio Meucci at the end of the 19th century. and patented by Alexander Graham Bell. It was designed to transform electrical impulses into the human voice. Throughout almost 100 years of history, the telephone has evolved a lot to become the devices we have (although less and less) in our homes.

However, for the cell phone or even the cordless to be possible, radio should also be discovered. In other words, the cell phone required the development of the transmission of information via electromagnetic waves and, later, through satellite microwaves.

Once these two technologies were discovered, it was a matter of time until the first “wireless” phones appeared.

The world’s first cell phone

cell phone history
The first cell phone was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X model.

The idea of ​​manufacturing a cell phone is not as new as its manufacture, since in 1947 the engineer DH Ring had already proposed some sketches to Bell Laboratories. However, they lacked the technology to make them.

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In the 1960s all the big telecommunications companies used the same concept, and competed to be the first to make it effective. Finally, the first company to design a cell phone was Bell Laboratories, whose patent was approved in 1972.

Nevertheless, the first cell phone prototype was demonstrated in 1973 by Motorola, through a call from Martin Cooper from a street in New York. The phone was a DynaTAC 8000X model, and the call was made to his biggest competitor in the area, Joel Engel of AT&T Bell Laboratories.

The DynaTAC 8000X began to be commercialized in 1984. It weighed around 1 kilogram and measured 33 x 4.4 x 8.9 centimeters. Its battery allowed barely an hour of communication or an eight-hour wait on the network.

The first generation or 1G

history of the cell phone 1980
The first generation of cell phones was bulky and not very useful.

Ameritech Mobile Communications appeared in the 1980s., LLC, the first company to provide cell phone service. For this, it used analogue radio channels (frequencies around 450 MHz) with frequency modulation (FM). Some of the first phones of this type were from the Ericsson company, brand NMT 450.

This generation of cell phones It was cumbersome and not very useful by today’s standards., but it was a huge advance in communication and technology. In 1986 Ericsson modernized its equipment, launching the NMT 900, and companies such as AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) and TACS (Total Access Communication System) operated in the United States and other first world countries.

Second generation or 2G

cell phone history
In the 1990s, terminal manufacturing became simpler and cheaper.

The second generation of cell phones born in the 1990s. It used GSM systems (Global System for Mobile Communications, a European standard) and frequencies between 900 and 1800 MHz, which represented the step towards the digitization of cellular communications. Improved voice quality and security levels.

Secondly, terminal manufacturing became simpler and cheaper. Different line management models were also used, such as Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), which allowed migration from analog to digital without having to invest heavily in change. wiring, towers, antennas, etc.

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This new technology also allowed roaming and the sale of units at much more competitive prices. In this generation the massification of the mobile phone began.

Generation 2.5

Soon EMS and MMS technology was added to the second generation, thus enabling text messaging and multimedia messaging to existing cell phones. In many cases the functionality was limited to receiving them, but it didn’t take long for units capable of emitting them to appear.

Given that this type of new technologies required higher transmission speeds, networks were upgraded to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which allowed speeds of up to 120 kb/s, and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution), which brought it up to 384 kb/s.

Third generation or 3G

cell phone history
The first smartphones already functioned as small computers.

At the beginning of the XXI century the third generation responded to the need for cell phones with Internet connectivityvideo conferencing, television and file downloading, that is, small computers.

The first Smartphones or smartphones belong to this generation, and are responsible for its popularization. To this end, a new system was implemented: UTSM (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) with CDMA technology, capable of reaching transmission speeds of 7.2 Mb/s under optimal conditions.

Fourth generation or 4G

cell phone history
The fourth generation allowed to play videos in high definition.

This is the generation of “High-end” Smartphones or greater capacities, thanks to its Internet connection at high speeds (bandwidth) and reception of videos in High Definition (HD). It is the technology currently used in advanced companies in the world of mobile telephony, and is considered the technological evolution of mobile telephony.

Fifth generation or 5G

The fifth generation of cell phones is currently (2019) in development. Powerful companies such as China’s Huawei and Russia’s Megafon have been testing since 2014 to manufacture a new generation of technology.

As revealed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2017, it is estimated that will reach speeds of up to 20 Gb/s download and 10 Gb/s of load, optimizing the technology with new standards that are expected to be available by 2020.

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The Smartphone Revolution

cell phone history
The incorporation of touch screens suppressed the use of keyboards.

smartphones were the biggest change in the history of cell phones. On the one hand, the functionality changed, incorporating many aspects of computers. On the other hand, the design changed: the phones promised to be smaller and more discreet every time, but the arrival of the Smartphones implanted the need for large screens.

Faced with the need to display the information on the screens, the keyboards were suppressed, which were replaced by touch instructions within the screenknown as technology touch screen. In addition, more voluminous and rectangular-shaped devices were designed.

cell phone timeline

  • 1973. The first cell phone in history, the DynaTAC, is created.
  • 1982. The commercialization of 1G cell phones begins.
  • 1990. The commercialization of 2G cell phones begins and they become massive.
  • 1992. The first SMS in the history is sent.
  • nineteen ninety six. Motorola announces its first mobile phone, the StarTAC.
  • 1997. The first cell phone with an integrated camera is announced.
  • 1999. The first cell phone with mp3 capacity appears, the Samsung sph-m100.
  • 2001. The commercialization of 3G cell phones begins.
  • 2001. The first cell phone with bluetooth capability appears, the Sony Ericsson T68.
  • 2005. The first cell phone with Wi-Fi capability appears, the Nokia n91.
  • 2008. The first Apple cell phone appears, the iPhone, inaugurating the world of Smartphones.
  • 2008. The first cell phone with the Linux (Android) operating system is marketed.
  • 2009. The boom in smartphone apps occurs.
  • 2010. The commercialization of 4G cell phones begins.
  • 2011. The first cell phone with Dual Core, from the LG brand, is marketed.
  • 2014. The development of future 5G technology is announced.
  • 2017. The first Smartphone with a front camera (double camera) of the Alcatel brand is marketed.


  • “History of the mobile phone” on Wikipedia.
  • “History of the cell phone” in Historia-Biography.com.
  • “Cellphone. History and evolution of cell phones” in Technology & Informatics.
  • “Brief history of the cell phone” in El Espectador.
  • “History and evolution of Cell Phones” at The Art Institutes.
  • “Mobile Telephone” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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