Twenty-five years ago on October 13, 1983, the first commercial cellular call was placed to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell in Germany from the president of Ameritech Mobile Communications at a ceremony held outside of Soldier Field in Chicago.
Weighing nearly two pounds and 13 inches long, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X used on that historic day only had a mere 30 minutes of talk time.
A “two-pound phone with 30 minutes of talk time” sounds improbable what with today’s Lilliputian offerings and if we didn’t actually own some of the earlier incarnations of cell phones I wouldn’t believe it either. Some phones in our museum are so heavy and clunky they make our arms ache if we carry them too long.
So what else has changed in the last 25 years in cell phone technology besides smaller phones with more power? CTIA has released some interesting facts on just how different the technology has changed. In fact, it’s changing so quickly that we can usually spot the age of a photograph not by a person’s hairdo or clothes they are wearing but by the cell phone they are holding.
Here are some compelling stats from CTIA on how far we have changed since 1983:
- Today, there are more than 262.7 million wireless subscribers— 83 percent of the total U.S. population. That equates to 2,869 times more subscribers today than in January 1985.
- During the last 21 years, wireless subscribers’ average local monthly bill has decreased by nearly 50%. What started as a nearly $100 monthly bill in 1987 averaged just $48.54 in June 2008.
- In 1985, the first year CTIA surveyed the wireless industry, wireless revenues amounted to less than $500 million dollars. Now, wireless service revenues have reached $143.7 billion in the last 12 months, with wireless subscribership reaching 262.7 million on June 30, 2008.
- Wireless data revenues – from games and music to text and photo messaging, mobile TV and web-browsing — in the U.S. now amount to more than 20% of all wireless service revenues. Just a mere five years ago, wireless data revenues amounted to only 2 percent of total service revenues. How many articles were even written about mobile applications a couple of years ago? We’re guessing not too many.
What kind of cell phone did you have five years ago? Ten years ago? Fifteen years ago? We were digging through the desk drawers at home recently looking for spare change and came across a cell phone from 2000. It looked like it was from another universe. But in 2000, it was top of the line and did a great job. Great as in it made phone calls. In public. And not from home.
Where will cell phone technology be in another 25 years? Share your ideas and memories with us! We’d love to hear from you.