Birth and evolution of mobile telephony

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Nowadays no one lives without a mobile phone, and it is thanks to them that we can always be connected with the whole world. But how were they born?

Parallel to the expansion of personal computers and networks, another great technological innovation that changed the way we live and communicate was the invention of mobile phones, tools without which we cannot live today.

The first appeared in 1921 in Detroit police cars, and in 1946 the US telephone company AT&T had started a commercial service. Their cost, however, was really high, because it had to be installed tailored to the car and the devices communicated with a huge antenna installed on a skyscraper.

After the first ancestors such as the pager in 1955 and the first devices capable of producing and managing microwaves, on April 3, 1973 the American engineer Martin Cooper, who worked for the electronics company Motorola, made a call from a telephone for the first time. Cell phone, a prototype that weighed 1.1Kg and took ten hours to charge. Motorola, therefore, was the first manufacturer of a portable telephone and transceiver station in a cell, the principle and development of the cellular network, however, are due to the Bell Labs of AT&T, which in 1968 had proposed a system based on the subdivision of the territory into a series of roughly hexagonal cells, each with a transceiver station. This was an important historical moment for global communication, but it was even more important when it met the market.

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In 1983 the first mobile phone was launched on the market: a Motorola DynaTac 8000X, which weighed almost 8 ounces, so much so that it was nicknamed “The brick”. From this moment on, the expansion of cell phones experienced exponential growth and development.

In 1986 they arrived in Europe, and in 1991 GSM was launched, a digital mobile phone system that will replace the existing analog systems. This new technology is not only for making phone calls, it also allows you to send text messages or connect your phone to your computer. In fact, SMS was born in 1992. Since 1921, technology has made great strides, moving from "brick phones" to smartphones smaller and thinner than a hand, and nowadays it is rare to find someone who does not own one. But the company that forever disrupted the market was Apple, by Steve Jobs, with the creation of the first smartphone in 2007.

Apple was born in 1976 when Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computers in a Los Altos garage. Initially famous for having created the Apple II personal computer in 1977, it achieved success in 1984 when it gave birth to the Macintosh 128K, equipped with a mouse, keyboard, intuitive interface. But his real revolution was the creation of the iPhone in 2007, which put companies like Nokia, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson in crisis. Another giant of the market, with which Apple clashed for several years, was Samsung. From 2011 onwards, the clash between the two companies was heated: Apple sued Samsung for copying their technology and their smartphone design and for patent infringement.

This duopoly of the smartphone market remained untouchable until 2015, when Huawuei entered the scene, which has an impressive growth rate until 2017. Currently, these three companies are the first on the market, yet Apple remains unbeatable for design, innovation and simplicity. Since its inception, Apple has sold nearly 1 billion iPhones.

But how did these phones connect to each other? The cellular network consists of a contiguous cell scheme each containing a radio antenna capable of connecting with mobile terminals and keeping the connection active. Consequently, the power and quality of the signal degrade proportionally to the distance you are from the antenna.

The evolution of the mobile phone was based on three different main operating systems and some intermediate ones that are called generations, based on different technologies and communication standards. In addition to the voice transmission service, the data exchange system was introduced starting from the second generation, or 2G, of mobile telecommunication technologies, also known by the acronym GSM, adopted since 1990.

Ten years later, GPRS was designed to achieve medium speed data transfer using the GSM network channels. In turn, GPRS was enhanced and EDGE was created, which had a faster data transfer rate and a stable connection than ever before.

Since 2003, the UMTS standard has spread, which indicates a technology of mobile connectivity and data transmission in mobility of the third generation.

The penultimate technology for data transmission over the mobile network is 4G, also known as LTE. This technology offers performance that improves the level of service and the Internet experience, with speeds approximately five times that of 3G. The latest network, 5G, arrived in 2020 and allows you to connect millions of devices around the world at high speed and low latency.

According to some scholars, 5G should also supplant current fiber connections in the future, in order to completely eliminate the modems to be connected to the telephone network.

The future therefore looks like an era in which devices will truly always be connected, without connecting to Wi-Fi or mobile networks. All connected devices will have the reliability of a current wired network on the mobile network, that is, available anywhere. Since 1921, technology has made great strides, moving from "brick phones" to smartphones smaller and thinner than a hand, and nowadays it is rare to find someone who does not own one. These portable minicomputers have entered our lives and we can no longer do without them as they keep us constantly connected to the whole world, shortening distances, breaking down walls, allowing us to literally have a world in our hands.

After smartphones, artificial intelligence is making its way into our lives and homes, becoming the companion of our everyday life, managing to make Siri and Cortana our new friends to talk to and confide in. And again, virtual reality allows us to shorten the distance between those who create and those who use it, offering virtual experiences that bring users closer; and augmented reality provides us with a vision "never seen before" in the entertainment industry. These tools make the online experience unique as never before, trying to bring users closer and closer to a network that is increasingly similar to reality, trying to achieve the goal of creating a parallel world: the digital one.

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Adventurer. It depends on nature. Obsessive student. Explorer. I am an adventurous traveler and photographer based in northern Italy. I graduated from the Artistic High School with specialization in audiovisual and multimedia, and now I'm graduating from the University at the faculty of sciences and techniques of cultural tourism. I love travel and I have made my passion my job.

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