What did a cell phone 80 years ago look like?


A film from the 1940s showing how to operate and use mobile phones far different from today.

In 1979, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), a Japanese operator, launched its first mobile network. Six years earlier, the first mobile phone was introduced by Motorola.

This is considered a historical milestone of the telecommunications industry in general. However, if you do not know, mobile phones have been around for decades. A video made by the Bell Telephone in the 1940s shows how they exist.


The video about a mobile phone was broadcast in 1948. (Image: Periscope Films).

Titled Mobile Telephones (mobile phones), the video is primarily about the benefits of equipping mobile phones with mobility devices such as trucks.

For example, a transport company could equip a mobile phone in the car so that the driver can contact the company at any time. The phone consists of a transmitter and a receiver box, in the trunk of the car, along with the battery and power supply. Users will communicate, talk with a headset, while the antenna receives the signal placed on the roof of the vehicle.

The phone also has a button, the user will hold down while talking and release when the other party responds. The stethoscope is stored under the steering wheel table when not in use.


The telephone receiver is stored under the truck's steering wheel table. (Photo: Periscope Films).

When a call comes in, the phone will ring and turn on the light. If the driver does not answer the phone, the light will continue to light until they contact the operator to see who has called.

When making a call, they will be made by the network. Calls are sent via radio waves and phone lines. It is quite interesting that this radio wave used FM frequency, while most users at that time listened to the radio through AM frequency.

"Mobile phones help expand voice communication ... A step forward in communication service for anyone, anytime, anywhere", is what Bell Telephone shared in the paragraph movie.

According to a comment on YouTube, the video was released in 1948 when AT&T was preparing to provide a broader mobile service in the United States.


Antenna for the phone is mounted on the roof of the car. (Photo: Periscope Films).

This communication technology was quite similar to the communication system used by the police at the time. There are 2 separate mobile services named Urban and Highway. While Urban uses frequencies 152 and 158 MHz, is present within 40 km of the city of Washington, Highway uses frequencies 35 and 43 MHz, covering the remaining areas.

In addition to describing how mobile phones worked 80 years ago, the film also shows us how mobile phones have changed dramatically. Today, smart phones (smartphones) can take pictures, listen to music, surf the web, watch movies ... In 1948, no one thought that phones would develop like that. We live in 2020, and certainly don't know what technology will look like 80 years later.