The problem with cell phones is that people can’t look at them. At least this is the idea that came up with them fifty years ago.
Martin Cooper, an American engineer who earned the nickname “Father of the Cell Phone”, says that the device in our pockets has almost unlimited potential and could one day help fight some diseases.
But now we were a little obsessed.
“When I see someone passing by on the street with their eyes on their phone, I feel terrible. They’re not thinking,” the 94-year-old engineer told AFP in his office in Del Mar, California.
“But after we run more, they will know,” he joked.
Cooper has an Apple Watch and the latest iPhone, on which he intuitively jumps from email to his photos to YouTube to help control his hearing.
He updates the plan every time the company releases a version that he puts through careful testing.
But he admits that it can be overwhelming with a million apps.
“My grandchildren and great-grandchildren will never learn to use a cell phone,” he said.
– Active mobility –
Cooper’s iPhone, which he essentially uses to make calls, is a far removed version of the heavy block of wires and circuitry that used to make the first mobile call on April 3, 1973.
At the time, he was working at Motorola leading a team of designers and engineers in a race to produce the first truly mobile technology and not be left out of the emerging market.
The company had invested millions of dollars in the project in hopes of defeating the War System, the giant that had dominated American telecommunications since its inception in 1877.
Bell’s engineers came up with the idea of a cellular phone system just after World War II, and by the late 1960s it had been successfully installed in vehicles and phones, in part because of the huge battery needed to operate it.
But for Cooper, this move was not real.
In late 1972, he wanted a machine that people could use anywhere.
Using the resources of Motorola, he gathered experts in semiconductors, transistors, filters and antennas, who worked non-stop for three months.
In late March, the team unveiled the DynaTAC (acronym for Adaptive Dynamic Total Area Coverage) model.
“This phone weighed more than a kilo and had a device for 25 minutes of conversation,” he said.
“This was not a problem. The phone was so heavy that it could not hold for more than 25 minutes.”
The first call was not long. It was enough that it was good.
But what is better than a rival?
“I was on Sixth Avenue” [en Nueva York] and it occurred to me to call my complaint into the Bell System, Dr. Joel Engel
And I said: Joel, I am Martin Cooper. I call you on the mobile phone. But it’s real mobile, personal, portable, and maintainable.
“There was silence at the end of the train. I think I was grinding my teeth.
– “Strike the diseases” –
Those first cell phones weren’t cheap, valued at $5,000, but they brought in the use of early adopters, who Cooper said included people in real business.
“It becomes possible for people who work in real estate to show homes or get new clients on the phone … Now they can do both at the same time, which doubles their productivity.”
“Thone phone has become an extension of the person, it can do many things.” Cooper said.
“And we’re just at the beginning. We’re just beginning to understand what it can do. In the future, we hope that the cell phone will turn education. It will turn medicine.”
“I know it sounds exaggerated, but at one generation or another we are hit with diseases.”
Just as your watch monitors your heart while you’re born, and your phone controls your hearing aids, cell phones will one day be connected to a series of body sensors that can detect diseases before they develop.
Between that volume fifty years ago and today’s tour is a gigantic space. Cooper always knew, however, that he and his team would change the world.
“We know that one day everyone will have mobile phones. We are almost there. There are more mobile subscriptions in the world than people. So part of our dream is coming true.
New technologies often bring challenges.
“When the television intervened, the people were mesmerized. But somehow (…) we could understand that the quality is connected with the television surveillance”.
We’re in a period where we’re looking at our minds, but it won’t last, says Cooper.
“Each new generation is smarter. They will learn to use cell phones more efficiently. People will see that sooner or later.”