Who invented the mobile phone?

Posted on October 28, 2008  /  4 Comments

Alexander Graham Bell and/or Elisha Gray invented conventional telephony, most people know. Marconi is generally recognized as the father of radio, but many know that people like Tesla did most of the heavy lifting. Bell and Marconi are more or less household names, possibly because the prominence achieved by the companies named for these men.

Who invented the mobile? Here is the obituary of Amos E. Joel, Jr., one of the men who contributed to the emergence of mobile telephony as we know it. But what about the others? Who made the critical breakthroughs?


  1. I think it was Obama.

  2. This has nothing to do with wireless communication, but the transition from carbon microphones to piezoelectric microphones/transducers also happened in the 1970s, and paved the way for miniature and portable devices such as the mobile phone.

    A single person cannot be credited with the discovery, as most of the research were pioneered by the Japanese who were not hindered with patent restrictions as in the United States. Collectively as a nation they came up with materials such as PZT (Lead Zirconium Titanate) that are still the most efficient and prominent of piezoelectric ceramics.

  3. Though it is difficult to single out the ‘inventor’ of a mobile phone (just like we don’t know who exactly invented car as different people invented components) Martin Cooper is widely believed to be the father of ‘hand phone’, against the car phone. According to Wikipedia, Cooper is the inventor named on US patent 3906166 ‘Radio telephone system’ filed on October 17, 1973. He is considered the inventor of the first portable handset and the first person to make a call on a portable cell phone on April 3, 1973, to the bewilderment of passers-by in a New York City street.

    Nuwan and myself had the rare opportunity of meeting him during a Wireless Research Forum meeting once in Chennai.

  4. In Chennai he told us the story of his wife’s idea of the Jitterbug mobile phone (http://www.info4cellphones.com/jitterbug-cell-phone-for-seniors.html) intended for senior citizens and or physically impaired. True, in this case his wife was behind this innovation.