Meet The Geniuses Behind The Cell Phone, Texting And Other Mobile Tech You Can't Live Without

Martin Cooper

Photo: FCC.gov

Mobile devices have come a long way from the clunky bricks of the early 90’s.Many of us have grown so attached to our Blackberrys and iPhones, it is hard to believe we got by without them.

But do you know who invented them?

To jog your memory, take a look at the origins of these mobile devices and their accessories.

Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher, used a phone that weighed about two pounds to place the first call on a handheld cellular telephone.

The title for inventing the first automated cellular network (the 1G generation) goes to Japan.

Whose idea: Japan wireless provider, NTT

NTT, Japan's largest wireless provider, launched its network in Tokyo in 1979. Within five years, the NTT network was expanded to cover the whole population of Japan and became the first nation-wide 1G network.

IBM and BellSouth teamed up to give us the first smartphone, the IBM Simon.

Whose idea: IBM and BellSouth

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was created by a joint venture between IBM and BellSouth. Simon was first shown as a product concept in 1992 at COMDEX, the computer and technology trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Launched a year later, it combined the features of a mobile phone, a pager, a PDA, and a fax machine.

The IBM Simon, which originally cost $899, also introduced users to the first smartphone applications, which were a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, e-mail, and games.

A 22-year-old engineer sent the first text message from his personal computer.

The earliest US patent for a battery charger for mobile phones was filed by a team of four Taiwanese inventors.

Philippe Kahn is one of the entrepreneurs credited with inventing the camera phone.

Whose idea: Philippe Kahn and Olympus, among others.

Philippe Kahn, an entrepreneur, is credited with being the first person to connect his mobile phone to a digital camera and post photos of his newborn baby on a website in 1997.

However, In 1994, Olympus had released a camera called the Deltis VC-1100, which let users upload digital photos over cellular and analogue phone lines.

We owe our GPS phones to the US Dept. of defence and Japan.

Whose idea: U.S. Dept. of defence

The Global Positioning System was launched by the U.S. Department of defence in 1994 with 24 initial satellites.

Seven years later, Japan created the first GPS-equipped mobile phones in December 2001.

In 1999, 3Com gave us the Palm VII, the first mobile device equipped with location based services.

Whose idea: 3Com

The first LBS-equipped mobile device to hit the consumer market was the Palm VII.

The first LBS apps were the Weather.com app from The Weather Channel and the TrafficTouch Sony-Etak / Metro Traffic.

At $599, including a $14.95 monthly charge, the Palm VII was the most expensive Palm sold at the time.

The guys who brought us voicemail formed their telecommunications company over pizza.

Whose idea: Greg Carr and Scott Jones

In 1984, over slices of pizza, Jones, an MIT researcher and Greg Carr, a Harvard grad student, decided to start their own telecommunications company, Boston Technology. Their first project was a system for finding out stock information, however, they soon moved on to a bigger idea.

Their idea became a reality after a ruling preventing phone companies from providing the service was reversed. The partners approached several telecom companies and raised enough venture support to launch the first voicemail service in 1988.

The earliest transparent touch screen was called the AccuTouch.

Whose idea: George S. Hurst

In 1971, the first 'Touch Sensor' was developed by Hurst while he was an instructor at the University of Kentucky. This sensor, called the 'Elograph,' was patented by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation. The 'Elograph' was not transparent like modern touchscreens; however, it was a significant milestone in touchscreen technology.

In 1974, the first true touchscreen incorporating a transparent surface was developed by Hurst, co-founder of the company Elographics, inc. The new transparent technology was later named AccuTouch.

A young computer operator invented mobile email but did not believe in patenting his idea.

Geoff Goodfellow came up with the idea of sending electronic mail messages wirelessly to a portable device while working as an assistant computer operator. In 1982, he published his idea on a mailing list called Telecom Digest in a note titled 'Electronic Mail for People on the Move.'

Goodfellow did not believe in patenting his work, however. 'You don't patent the obvious,' he told the New York Times. 'The way you compete is to build something that is faster, better, cheaper. You don't lock your ideas up in a patent and rest on your laurels.'

Thomas J. Campana Jr., a Chicago inventor and founder of the company NTP, patented the idea of wireless electronic mail almost a decade after Goodfellow's original work, and helped pull in millions of dollars for the company.

We can thank Finland for being able to search the Internet from our mobile phones.

The first access to the mobile web was commercially offered in Finland in 1996 on the Nokia 9000 Communicator phone via the Sonera and Radiolinja networks.

The first commercial launch of a mobile-specific browser-based web service was in 1999 in Japan when i-mode was launched by NTT DoCoMo.

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