Mobile phone turns 40, with little fanfare; Father of the mobile phone, Martin Cooper, placed the first call to a rival, Joel Engel of Bell Labs. “They thought that we were a gnat, an obstacle… we believed in competition and lots of players. And we also believed – our religion was portables, because people are mobile.”

Mobile phone turns 40, with little fanfare

April 4, 2013 – 9:11AM


Father of the mobile phone, Martin Cooper, pictured with the first functional mobile phone.

The mobile phone turned 40 on Wednesday, with no fanfare to mark the occasion in a market which seemed focused on new smartphones like the iPhone and a possible Facebook-themed device.

The first mobile call was placed April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, head of a team working on mobile communication technologies. Cooper made the call on Sixth Avenue in New York, before going into a press conference using a Motorola DynaTAC – a device that weighed one kilogram, and had a battery life of 20 minutes, according to Motorola. Cooper told the technology website The Verge last year that he placed the first call to a rival, Joel Engel of Bell Labs.

“To this day, he resents what Motorola did in those days,” Cooper said. “They thought that we were a gnat, an obstacle… we believed in competition and lots of players. And we also believed – our religion was portables, because people are mobile. And here they were trying to make a car telephone and a monopoly on top of that. So that battle was the reason that we built that phone.”Cooper and his team were honoured earlier this year with the Draper Prize by the US National Academy of Engineering for their work.

In 40 years, the industry has come a long way. Research firm IDC predicts 900 million smartphones will be sold in 2013 – along with roughly the same number of more basic feature phones.

And the phone has become a key advertising platform – eMarketer said US mobile advertising spending grew 178 per cent last year to $US4.11 billion, and spending is expected to rise a further 77.3 per cent to $US7.29 billion in 2013.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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