The Economist: Brain Scan: Father of the Cell Phone, Martin Cooper

Marty Cooper, the pioneer of mobile telephony, has spent his entire career pushing wireless communications to new heights UNLESS you work in the telecoms industry, you are unlikely to have heard of Marty Cooper. He is hardly a household name. But his influence has been felt across the world, because he is the engineer who took the cellular technology used in the carphones of the 1970s and decided that phones ought to be small enough to be portable. His determination led to the first prototype, in 1973, and then to the first commercial mobile phone in 1983. “Marty is the most influential person no one has ever heard of,” says Robert McDowell, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission, America’s telecoms regulator.  

Personal Communications and Spectrum Policy For the 21st Century

31 Telecommunications Policy 566-72 (Nov.-Dec. 2007). Martin Cooper, CEO, Arraycomm & “Father of the Cellphone”, Tullock Lecturer February 2007.

People are mobile! They are naturally, inherently mobile. You see that every time you drive the streets of the District and the beltway. It seems that few people are where they want to be and they all seem to be on their way to somewhere else. And yet we in the telecommunications business have a history of constraining this need for mobility. We started by chaining people to their homes and desks with copper wire, then we introduced wireless but trapped them in their cars, and now that personal cellular telephony is a reality, we offer mobility for their computers but then give them a high cost, slow, ubiquitous service or the constraint of a WiFi ‘‘hot spot’’ that lengthens the chains but hardly eliminates them. Effective personal telecommunications should deliver ubiquitous, reliable, ever-increasing bandwidth to individuals at ever-decreasing cost. There is no technological or economic reason that keeps us from doing just that but we in the telecommunications industry are far from fulfilling this need; and at the top of the list of excuses for our painfully slow progress is the radio frequency spectrum.

 Telecommunications Policy Download
Telecommunications Policy Abstract
YouTube Video of Martin Cooper February 2007
Tullock Lecture at GMU Law on February 21, 2007

Related Articles:

Brain Scan: Father of the Cell Phone: Marty Cooper, The Economist, Jun 4 2009

Martin Cooper: Personal Communications and Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century

A Lecture by Martin Cooper, CEO, Arraycomm & “Father of the Cellphone”

Big Ideas About Information Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 * 4:00-5:30 pm

The Big Ideas About Information lecture series, featuring world-class thinkers addressing key questions about markets, public policy, and information technology, continued with an address by an individual on the frontier of wireless communications for decades. Martin Cooper conceived and demonstrated the world’s first cell phone in 1973.  Then a Motorola Vice President, Cooper helped engineer the technology that made spectrum re-use via cellular architecture feasible.  He has since continued to lead exciting advances in wireless networks, including the “array antenna” concept deployed to enhance the bandwidth of phone systems around the globe.   He has also contributed as an intellectual leader in the field, authoring classic articles for such journals as Scientific American and IEEE Spectrum.  Since the dawn of the wireless age, Martin Cooper has helped to craft the science and business structures shaping our markets, and is uniquely qualified to explain the role government regulation plays with respect to emerging wireless technologies today.

YouTube Video of Lecture:


Related Articles:

Brain Scan: Father of the Cell Phone: Marty Cooper, The Economist, Jun 4 2009

Martin Cooper, Personal Communications and Spectrum Policy For the 21st Century, 31 Telecommunications Policy 566-72 (Nov.-Dec. 2007)

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Tullock Lecture Big Ideas About Information Series