Wireless portable telephones that can be used nearly anywhere are still referred to as “cell phones,” although “mobile phone” is a more accurate term; cellular phones were the early form of networking for communications providers that consisted of multiple base stations that divided up a region into “cells.”
Wireless technology that makes these phones possible owes a great deal to the mid-19th-century work of Michael Faraday, who researched how electricity could travel through space. Two decades later, Dr. Mahlon Loomis of Virginia was the first person to transmit a message via the atmosphere, using a system of kites and copper wires. In 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper of the Motorola Corporation invented the portable handset.
Portable telephones were first developed in the 1940s and first became truly usable in the 1960s, the catch being that they would work only in one discrete area. At this time, some moguls and magnates began to install car phones. In the 1970s, those phones became more practical, since a person could use them during travel. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a plan for Advanced Digital Phone Service, or “cellular” service. Of course, the early phones approved for use with this plan were huge and bulky, often with battery or power packs larger than the phone itself that had to be carried around with it. The second-generation mobile phones were somewhat smaller, but regardless of their size and style quickly became obsolete when analogue networks were replaced with digital networks. Third-generation phones accommodated digital networks, and are capable of many popular functions including texting, taking photos, playing music, and annoying your parents.