On April 3, 1973, an engineer named Martin Cooper stood nervously along a busy midtown Manhattan street, about to make a phone call. It was a call that would change life as we know it: The first cell phone call ever.
The phone Cooper used that day — a prototype — was a bulky, 2-pound monster that looked a bit like a shoe with an antenna sticking out of the top. In the half-a-century since, this technology has changed more about the way we communicate and connect than Cooper could’ve ever imagined.
On this special episode, we mark the 50th anniversary of the first cell call with an exploration of the past, present, and future of mobile communications. We hear about Cooper’s work on this world-altering invention, one community’s fight against the 5G revolution, and why satellite phones are making a comeback in a big way.
Also heard on this week’s episode:
- Cell towers may keep us all connected, but there’s a downside: They’re an eyesore. That’s led some providers to try disguising their towers as giant trees or cactuses. But is there a better solution? We hear from architect and writer Jesse LeCavalier, who directs the Cornell University Urban Design Program in New York City, about the history of telecommunication aesthetics, and how attitudes have changed.