Hold The Phone
Marty Cooper and John Mitchell were not song-and-dance men, but sometimes it felt that way. The two engineers, executives in Motorola’s communications division, fed off each other’s energy during presentations, seeming to move and speak as one. And on Tuesday morning, April 3, 1973, at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, Cooper and Mitchell performed the most important routine of their careers. They introduced the world’s first hand-held portable cell phone in front of about 50 newspaper reporters.
The real audience wasn’t the assembled press or even the public, who would read about this marvel in the next day’s papers. Cooper and Mitchell were actually putting on their technological buck-and-wing for the Federal Communications Commission, which seemed ready to hand AT&T yet another in a long series of telephone monopolies, this time over the nascent cellular-telephone business.
Cooper and Mitchell had mounted their production to show the FCC the kind of creative innovation a little competition could generate. They hoped their real-life version of Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone would be simple and potent evidence that AT&T wasn’t the only company that could build and operate a cellular network. Motorola was also writing up lengthy technical, legal, and business counterproposals in support of its position, but these could easily pass unnoticed without some powerful way to attract attention.
The press raved about Motorola’s hand-held wonder, predicting a miraculous future of untethered communication. Motorola did little to discourage such speculation. But in truth, no one—not Cooper, not Mitchell, not AT&T, not the FCC—actually expected a significant number of consumers to be interested in paying for and toting around personal telephones. The demonstration was basically a stunt.
A year earlier no one had even been considering the development of a hand-held portable phone. The idea of a mobile telephone was not new; car phones had been around in fairly small numbers for about a quarter-century. But each car-phone function required its own mass of transistors, wires, tubes, switches, resonators, and filters. While car phones had gotten smaller over time, they still required a 40-pound, coffeetable-size transceiver that was called portable only because it could be mounted in a car’s trunk.
Could such a behemoth be turned into something light enough to carry around? In an age of satellite communication, trips to the moon, and the seeming miracle of the pocket calculator, it was assumed that any engineering challenge would eventually be overcome. But even if it was possible, so what? Why would anyone pay a monthly subscription fee and hefty per-call charges when 10-cents-a-call phone booths were everywhere?
Motorola’s real motivation was to get the FCC to allot more spectrum for car phones, which they foresaw as a lucrative market for their equipment-making business. In the early 1970s the size and cost of a car phone—usually more than $1,000 for the equipment, plus subscriber fees that could top $100 a month (multiply by five to get figures in today’s dollars)—kept demand moderate, which was not necessarily a bad thing. Car-phone systems operated at low frequencies. Low frequencies mean high propagation, so a strong signal could be transmitted over a wide area at fairly low power. But they also mean fewer channels than high frequencies, leaving no way to accommodate thousands of potential subscribers who wanted car phones despite the high price.
AT&T had been hectoring the FCC for more spectrum at higher frequencies ever since introducing its car-phone service in 1946. Motorola, as the primary hardware provider for AT&T’s car-phone network, had always backed these petitions. Over the years, confronted by these combined forces, the FCC had parsimoniously doled out bits of additional spectrum at higher frequencies, topping out at 450 MHz for Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) in 1964.
In July 1968 AT&T once again petitioned the FCC, this time for exclusive access to a roomier and more efficient swath of spectrum in the 800 MHz band. Specifically, AT&T requested a 75 MHz slice between 806 and 881 MHz. This time, however, the request was different. AT&T wanted the bandwidth not for expanding its IMTS system but for something radically new.
Since 1947 AT&T had been planning a wireless phone system that would not use a single, giant, powerful antenna but rather dozens of small, low-power antennas in a mosaic of hexagonal geographic “cells.” (See “The Cell-Phone Revolution” in this issue.) In the last decade or so the massive computing power needed to run such a system had started to become available. Now AT&T was ready to take cellular telephony from idea to reality. As usual, it saw itself as a natural monopoly holder, to be regulated by the FCC in the kind of cozy arrangement that had long worked well for both the company and the public.
Motorola was enthusiastic about cellular service, but not about a monopoly. A cellular network would be a whole new equipment business, one that AT&T could easily dominate. (Regulations had prevented AT&T from dominating the existing market for car-phone equipment.) So Motorola joined with General Electric, GTE, RCA, and the Electronic Industries Association to persuade the FCC not to give away the store to AT&T. Motorola had to tread lightly, however, when challenging its biggest customer. “If you crossed them,” Cooper says, “[you] went from major supplier to AT&T to nothing.”
Mitchell was vice president and general manager of Motorola’s communications sector, while Cooper held the unwieldy title of Vice President and General Manager of the Communications Division Systems Division. Their backgrounds were strangely similar: Both had been born in Chicago in 1928, and both had graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology before serving in the Navy. Mitchell had joined Motorola in 1953, working on portable paging products, and Cooper a year later as a research engineer in the mobile-equipment group. Despite their shared backgrounds, the two men did not meet until 1956, when Mitchell brought Cooper out of research and into the communications division’s product groups, in Chicago.
The two soon discovered that their skills complemented each other. Mitchell was a no-nonsense executive, short and stocky, vaguely uncomfortable in the chummy world of Motorola’s engineers. “He was a hard-driving S.O.B. who would make things happen,” recalls one engineer, “but there was not a great deal of love lost.” (Mitchell would rise through Motorola’s ranks to become president of the company in 1980.)
Cooper, the son of Russian immigrants, was tall and thin, more polished and far more gregarious, “a slap-on-the-back kind of guy,” according to one of his co-workers. “He loved to give presentations in front of people. He was almost a ham.” He was also a bit of a health nut. Periodically he would down a fistful of mixed vitamins from a large bowl on his desk, like so many M&M’s. When asked how he knew how many of each pill he was taking, he replied that it all evened out over time.
Mitchell and Cooper both realized that Motorola’s mobileequipment business would be in danger if AT&T was granted a monopoly over the new cellular industry. So, along with Roy Richardson, the company’s director of research, they assembled a small team of engineers to design a 900 MHz cellular system that would compete with AT&T’s 800 MHz proposal. By mid-1972 both AT&T and Motorola had working cell-system test sites up and running, AT&T at its Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, New Jersey, and Motorola at its new headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg and at two downtown Chicago test sites.
Motorola believed that its 900 MHz system was better than AT&T’s 800 MHz system, but Cooper and Mitchell knew that a tie, or even a slight Motorola advantage, would not provide enough rationale for the FCC to open up each market to multiple carriers. A test system was one thing, but implementing a full-blown network was AT&T’s raison d’être and supposedly too expensive and difficult for any company except a monopoly. No one would find fault with the FCC for picking AT&T.
In late October 1972 Cooper learned that AT&T’s cellular plans included, in the words of a memo he wrote, “a long range project looking at personal [i.e., portable] telephone.” Shortly afterward Mitchell called a meeting with Cooper and other communications division managers. “We have to do something spectacular,” Mitchell told them. Cooper realized that Motorola could co-opt its rival’s long-range plans. “What the world really needs,” he remembers saying, “is a hand-held portable phone.”
The proposal was not as radical as it would have been five years before. Most of the technologies needed to build such a phone were well understood, especially at Motorola, where engineers had been working on mobile and portable products for decades (the company’s name reflects its origin in car radios). Motorola’s engineers constantly strived to improve the quality, increase the functionality, and shrink the size of its car-phone components.
“We had a religion about making personal communications products smaller and lighter,” Cooper says. “We’d been preparing the elements of a 900 MHz product for years.” Market forces, costs, and technical problems had kept anyone from actually building a portable phone. Still, the mainstream press attention that a shiny futuristic bauble like a hand-held portable phone would garner might impress the technically unsophisticated FCC commissioners (at one Motorola demonstration a few months before, one of them had asked, “What’s a megahertz?”).
Cooper and Mitchell knew that integrated circuits could solve many, if not most, of the technical problems that a portable hand-held phone would present. As early as the late 1940s, soon after the invention of the transistor, Motorola had built a semiconductor plant in Phoenix, Arizona, and in 1972 it was working on semiconductor chip sets to replace many of its bulkier car-phone components. Cooper and his team had spent nearly four years developing smaller and more efficient components for Motorola’s 900 MHz car-based system. Many of these could be adapted for a hand-held phone with a few changes. So however dramatic the challenge seemed, building the necessary components would not be the most formidable obstacle.
The biggest problem the Motorola team faced was time. At AT&T’s request the FCC had scheduled a new round of hearings for May 1973. This gave Cooper and his engineers less than three months to design and assemble a product that had never been built and still have time for testing and demonstrations for both the media and the FCC prior to the hearings. Everyone involved would have to drop everything.
After Motorola’s staff returned from the Thanksgiving holiday, Cooper got the ball rolling. Rudy Krolopp, Motorola’s ebullient lead industrial designer, was the first line manager to get the news, probably because he and Cooper exercised together. “Rudy, who was in excellent shape, put on physical fitness classes which I attended, where you really stretched yourself,” Cooper recalled. “The last exercise Rudy directed was one where we paired up and pushed on our partner’s chest. He always found some good looking babe as a partner.”
A little after 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 4, Cooper summoned Krolopp to his second-floor office, “which was unusual,” Krolopp says, “because he usually came to mine to rap.” On his arrival he asked what Cooper wanted.
“We have to build a portable telephone,” Cooper answered.
“What the hell is that?” Krolopp asked.
“A phone you carry around with you.”
“That sounds interesting. Let me clean up what I’m working on.”
“No, you don’t understand. This has to be done in six weeks.”
Krolopp sat down. He and Cooper discussed rough dimensions, what components would have to be squeezed into the package, how it would have to work, and ergonomics. Krolopp told Cooper that he would come back in a couple of days with some sketches and mockups.
Next Cooper met with engineers from the applied-research division, who would do the meat-and-potatoes work. Don Linder was the primary designer; he would lead the team of a dozen or so engineers. Unlike Krolopp, Linder and his mates weren’t fazed by the deadlines. “We’d been in two or three quickresponse programs a year,” Linder says. “We’d been through it.”
Like Cooper and Krolopp, the Iowa-born Linder led a healthy life. But instead of stretching exercises or vitamins, his passion was skiing. His father was an engineer for the local electric utility with an interest in radio, and father and son built “things” in their basement. In 1965 Linder graduated from Iowa State University with an electrical-engineering degree. Thanks to Sputnik and the ensuing success of the American space program, the country was entranced with science, and “most graduating engineers got as many job offers as they wanted,” Linder recalls. “I had about seven different offers” before settling on Motorola.
After leaving Cooper’s office, Linder got right to work. Grabbing pad and pencil, he roughed out block diagrams with varying degrees of detail to determine what components were needed, how they would be connected, and the performance of each component, so that each engineer would know what he needed to accomplish.
“Even though we started this off on December 4, 1972, Marty and Roy [Richardson] and the managers that were really involved knew that we already had the technologies,” says Linder. “We had a running start because we were doing our homework [for the 900 MHz car-phone system]. This doesn’t spring out because someone was sitting in their office saying, ‘We need a portable phone.’”
Cooper had handed down his deadlines based on the scheduled FCC hearings, but Linder had a far more critical deadline. He and his wife belonged to a skiing club, and the group took a trip to Colorado every year in the first week of March. The phones had to be done before he left for the Rockies.
While Linder was sketching, so were Krolopp and his crew of industrial designers. After coming back from his meeting with Cooper, Krolopp told a dozen of his staffers to drop what they were working on. He gave them three days to come up with sketches. Instead of imposing limitations, Krolopp preferred to let his designers’ imaginations run free. “Some of the concepts looked a lot like what you’d see today,” Krolopp recalls. “Some were flip phones, some looked like matchboxes, some like bananas.”
Krolopp chose eight or nine sketches, which were turned into models. The winner was a model nicknamed the “shoe phone” for its shape. It had been created by Ken Larson, a 10-year Motorola veteran. “His model looked like you could put it right into production,” Krolopp notes. “His wasn’t the best design in terms of creativity, but it was logical and very basic. It looked good and solved the problems.”
The day after Larson’s model was chosen, cooper gathered a group of engineers and managers, including Mitchell, Richardson, Chuck Lynk (Linder’s boss), and James Mikulski (who worked on overall systems design), along with various Motorola executives, most of whom knew nothing of the project. Krolopp draped Larson’s model under a piece of blue cloth and stood by as Cooper described the project and the schedule. When he was done, Krolopp pulled the cover off Larson’s model.
“Eyes opened and jaws dropped, because it was really small,” Krolopp remembers. Cooper issued a challenge: “Anybody who doesn’t believe that this can’t be done in time, get up and leave the room.” “With the kind of egos we had in the room,” Krolopp says, “no one got up.”
Once everyone had signed off on what the phone would look like, Linder had to figure out how to squeeze components designed for bulky car-mounted mobile radios into a hand-held portable that would have to weigh less than three pounds. The first challenge was what Motorola called the “supervisory unit”; today it would be called the signal processor. It automated all the phone’s dialing, sending, receiving, and connectivity functions. In car phones, the supervisory unit was the size of an inch-thick spiral-bound notebook, an unwieldy soldered mass of transistors, capacitors, and resistors—not exactly portable.
Fortunately, Motorola engineers in Schaumburg and at the semiconductor plant in Phoenix, led by Al Leitich, had been working since the previous year to reduce the car phone’s supervisory unit to two integrated-circuit chips. “There weren’t many companies in the world designing their own integrated circuits for communications equipment,” Linder says. “The technology was pretty new… . It probably represented 6 to 10 man-years of effort—at least four people for a year and a half or more.”
Cooper and Linder knew that these chips, designed for Motorola’s next generation of IMTS car phones, were nearly ready and could be used in the hand-held. As head of research, Cooper had the power in the company to get the chips fabricated and delivered to Schaumburg in a hurry. In a memo sent to Phoenix on December 11, he wrote: “The communications division is currently involved in an extremely important top priority development program, which is expected to have a very significant impact on our future growth… . It is imperative for the success of this program that we have working chips [as soon as possible].” Linder got his chips on time.
Next Linder created a new “full-duplex” filter to eliminate interference and crosstalk between the powerful transmitted signal and the much weaker received signal. “The signal you’re trying to receive is a microvolt, and the signal you’re transmitting is several volts,” explains Linder. In Motorola’s car phones, the full-duplex filter “was a block as big as a two-pound brick.”
Each of these filters, one for transmission and one for reception, was essentially a piece of metal with four hollow chambers, each four inches long and one inch square. Suspended inside these chambers were 3/4-inch silver-plated brass resonators, shaped like drinking straws and connected to the phone’s antenna. When a signal was received or transmitted, the resonators vibrated at the specific required frequency, allowing the signal to pass.
This bulky and complicated device had to be shrunk to a small fraction of the size. Fortunately, as with the supervisory chips, Motorola engineers, led by the filter specialist Maynard McGhay, were already on the case. McGhay’s work was simplified by two inherent benefits that came with using the higher 900 MHz frequency: smaller wavelengths and a more luxurious 45 MHz of separation between the incoming and outgoing signal channels, rather than the uncomfortably close 5 MHz in the 450 MHz range of AT&T’s established IMTS system. Finally, because of the much smaller cell zones, signals would travel shorter distances and have fewer obstructions to overcome, reducing the need for filtering.
By themselves, these inherent benefits would have allowed McGhay and his team to build a smaller filter, but not small enough. Two additional technologies had let them reduce the filter to the size they needed. The first was a patented technique that replaced a mass of labyrinthine wiring with a direct filter-to-antenna connection. Second, instead of using bulky air-filled chambers, the chambers were made smaller and coated with Teflon. When Linder came knocking, McGhay and his team had already shrunk the chambers to just 21/4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. With some further modifications, Maynard was able to reconfigure the filters to work in the portable phone.
Perhaps the most complex shrinking job involved the tuner. Throughout the history of radio, each channel had required its own small quartz crystal of a specific size to resonate at a specific frequency. Since IMTS had only a few channels, Motorola’s car-based mobile phones needed only six to eight crystals. But a portable cell phone would have to access and tune hundreds of channels to be useful. Not only did Cooper and Linder need a way to avoid installing hundreds of crystals; they had to find a solution that wouldn’t completely sap a small battery.
Once again, Motorola’s researchers were already at work on a solution. For five years Linder had been designing circuits known as frequency synthesizers, which generate multiple frequencies electronically from a single crystal. Jim Durante, a new hire with frequency-synthesizer experience, took a design that Linder had worked out and adapted it for the portable cell phone. The design called for replacing resonating crystals with an integrated circuit that would control voltage and lock (that is, prevent from drifting) frequencies generated by a transistorized oscillator. “All the technology was there, but the product groups had been slow to put them in a product,” Linder explains. “The need for hundreds of channels simply had not come up.”
Shrinking items like these was a common task for Motorola’s engineers, but the portable cell phone presented a new problem, one that they had not encountered with car phones. Cars are primarily restricted to outdoor locations at street level, but portable cell phones would go up and down inside buildings as well. This could cause all manner of interference problems due to physical barriers such as steel and concrete, which are much less troublesome on an open roadway.
Bob Steele, who had worked on military communications gear, was familiar with the problem. Together with Merle Gilmore, who would eventually become an executive vice president at Motorola, Steele had developed a power-control system, a closed-loop circuit that enabled base stations to sense the transmitter output from a portable depending on its location and compensate for changing conditions to keep the signal steady. “It was small already, so it didn’t need to be shrunk,” Linder says. “It was a new technology that we hadn’t used. It just needed to be adapted to the portable.”
Work was also accelerated on other necessary components. Orville Eness, a quiet senior staff engineer, worked on the microphone and voice-operated transmitter, a circuit that saved battery power by automatically turning off the transmitter when the user wasn’t speaking. Dave Gunn and Bill Rapshys worked on the transmitter circuitry. Bill Dumke, a junior engineer who had been with Motorola for only a year, designed the transmitter power amplifier. Gene Hodges put together the automatic output control, which governed the transmitter power output. And all the while, Linder cajoled and advised, making sure all these new components would be done on time and work together.
While Linder supervised the technical work, Krolopp made sure everything would fit into the phone’s proposed dimensions. “If we’d let the engineers make it the way they wanted, it would have been as big as a horse cart,” Krolopp says. “But it was still larger than we anticipated. One day a guy brought in a house brick, and that was the size of our phone; at that point, people started calling it the brick phone.”
Larson’s original design called for a tall, thin phone. If the engineers needed more space, Krolopp told them they could add to the depth, but he wanted to make sure the width would be less than two inches. Otherwise, a user wouldn’t be able to hold it comfortably. This narrowness resulted in an odd keypad array: Instead of the normal three-by-four touchpad layout, it had two vertical rows of six buttons. The bottom two keys were the green “send” and red “end” keys; these Krolopp concepts have not changed since.
Despite all the technical issues, it was color that ended up provoking the biggest argument. Mitchell wanted standard Motorola beige, but Krolopp wanted the phone to be white. “The last thing we wanted to do was make this look heavy, so we needed a light color,” Krolopp explains. “John [Mitchell] had opinions about everything and was almost always right,” Cooper adds, “but there were times when guys had to stand their ground.” Krolopp’s creative instincts won the day.
By mid-February all the components were nearing completion, but the engineers needed help in putting them together. “Because we were an electronic research department, we didn’t have any mechanical engineers,” Linder says, “so Rudy borrowed some.” They laid out the phone’s chassis, component, and circuit connections, then passed along the jumble of wires so that printed circuit boards could be made. Not all the parts were on circuit boards, however. Most of the transmitter was built with unique wiring, largely because of time constraints.
One of the final pieces was the antenna, designed by Al Davidson. “He made three or four,” says Linder. “They were all supposed to work the same, but they didn’t. I picked the one that worked best.”
Linder began testing the unit together with the base station that had been built for the 900 MHz system. It took three or four days for the handset to pass all the tests, which included real-life calls. These were remarkably low-key and lacked any kind of “Watson, come here, I need you” drama. “We engineers would call the director of research, Roy Richardson, or our own home number,” Linder recalls. “If you were showing the phone to someone else, then you would encourage them to call anyone they wanted to. Usually it would be their own office, and they would talk to their own secretary.” Once Linder was sure the first handset was up to snuff, he had a second unit built.
The finished phone measured 17/8 inches wide, 31/2 inches deep, and 9 inches tall (not including the antenna), and weighed 45 ounces. It could access 380 duplex channels, and the rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery could make 12 three-minute calls and last 12 hours in standby mode. “If you look at modern cellular phones, all the electronics are on 2 or 3 chips and perhaps a hundred parts,” Cooper notes. “This 1973 portable had literally thousands of parts that had to be squeezed into a 21/2-pound box.”
The only thing missing was a name for the phone and the 900 MHz system. “I tried to put together all the system and marketing elements into the name,” Cooper says. “It was dynamic, it was adaptive, and it had total area coverage, not just a part of the city.” Cooper collapsed these concepts into DYNamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage, or Dynatac, which was alternatively rendered DynaTAC and Dyna T.A.C. Regardless of how it was spelled, the name ultimately came to be applied just to the phone.
One last piece of technology was required for the New York demonstration, a transportable base station. Existing base stations were far too bulky to be shipped around the country, much less moved into crowded Manhattan. Bruce Eastmons created a manageable 6-foot-high, 21/2-foot-square version of an existing 450 MHz base station, adding, among other things, frequency converters for 900 MHz and a filter to enable full-duplex operation. The base station was installed atop the Burlington Building, now the Alliance Capital Building, at 1345 Sixth Avenue, across Fifty-fourth Street from the hotel where the press demonstrations would be held.
On April 2 Motorola set up shop in the huge duplex east penthouse of the Hilton Hotel. While Linder and Lynk assembled a small lab, Cooper and Mitchell rehearsed what they would say the next morning. From the suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows the engineers could see the antenna array on the roof across the street. Lynk had a room elsewhere in the hotel, but when he was told that the bedroom at the top of two massive spiral staircases had been used by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, he decided to sleep with glamour.
April 3 dawned overcast and humid. About 50 members of the press showed up for the midmorning presentation. First Mitchell and Cooper ran through their song and dance, introducing the concept of a portable telephone and then explaining the cellular concept, the technical challenges that had been overcome to create the handset, the phone’s precise specifications, the varying price and availability scenarios, and the future potential of portable phones (about which they were sanguine, in public at least, based on the demand for car phones).
After all this, reporters finally got a chance to use the two Dynatac phones, which performed flawlessly. Gene Smith of The New York Times reported that “reception was clear, although the wife of one reporter told her husband, ‘Your voice sounds a little tinny… . There’s no resonance. I knew you weren’t calling from a regular phone.’”
Mitchell then went down to the street with one of the handsets and made a few calls while posing for photographers in front of some suddenly old-fashioned pay phones. In the flood of stories that poured out the next day, reporters noted that pedestrians were “agape” at a man making a wireless call. In a prescient lead paragraph, the AP reporter noted, “There may be no way to escape the strident summons of a telephone in a few years if a portable telephone developed by Motorola Inc. catches on.”
Cooper and Mitchell had achieved their goal: They had made a big splash. Joel Engel, who was Cooper’s counterpart at AT&T (and incidentally would be awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1994 for his work on AT&T’s cellular system), admits: “Motorola was politically much cleverer than we were. We were technical geniuses, but we didn’t know anything about lobbying and political stuff. They were much better at PR.” Now Motorola waited to see if the FCC had taken notice.
In fact, the FCC did have a change of heart. A year after Cooper and Mitchell’s Hilton performance, the agency denied AT&T’s request for a monopoly on cellular service. As often happens in communications law, it took seven more years before all the appeals and legal challenges were exhausted. Finally, on May 21, 1981, the FCC made its final ruling. It allocated two 20 MHz spectrum bands (825–845 MHz and 870–890 MHz) for cellular phone service, allowing for two competing systems in every metropolitan market. In recent years, with the advent of digital cell service, the spectrum has been extended into the wider 1900 MHz range.
Did Motorola’s stunt change the FCC’s mind? In retrospect, it’s easy to say that the Dynatac was a tipping point. “I can’t imagine it wasn’t crucial,” Cooper says. “The phone was pivotal. The FCC never would have made those moves without those demonstrations.”
Engel disagrees. “It didn’t register as a big deal. It didn’t affect the FCC. At the time people thought hand-held was a novelty. People thought the main use of cell phones [would be] in vehicles… . We didn’t anticipate teenage kids with cellular phones. We didn’t anticipate personal residential use. We didn’t anticipate there’d be hand-held pocket-size units. No one predicted the advances in battery technology that have really made it all possible.”
It’s hard to say exactly how big a role the Dynatac played. When the FCC made its ruling in 1981, it believed Motorola’s argument that having two carriers per market would foster competition and “encourage new uses of radio,” precisely what the Dynatac handset was designed to illustrate. But the commissioners did not base their decision on the potential consumer market for portable handsets: “We do not foresee the widespread availability of such inexpensive units for some time.”
But Cooper has no doubts. “History has changed the perspective,” he observes. “The Dynatac was a small part of our product offering, but from a PR point of view, it was dynamite.”