The history of mobile phones begins with early efforts to develop radio telephone technology and from two-way radios in vehicles and continues through emergence of modern mobile phones and associated services.

Radiophones have a long and varied history going back to Reginald Fessenden's invention and shore-to-ship demonstration of radio telephony, through the Second World War
with military use of radio telephony links and civil services in the 1950s, while hand-held mobile radio devices have been available since 1973. Mobile phone history is often divided into generations (first, second, third and so on) to mark significant step changes in capabilities as the technology improved over the years.

In 1908, U.S. Patent 887,357 for a wireless telephone was issued to
Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray, Kentucky. He applied this patent to "cave radio" telephones and not directly to cellular telephony as the term is currently understood.

In 1910 Lars Magnus Ericsson installed a telephone in his car, although this was not a radio telephone. While travelling across the country, he would stop at a place where telephone lines were accessible and using a pair of long electric wires he could connect to the national telephone network.

In Europe, radio telephony was first used on the first-class passenger trains between Berlin and Hamburg in 1926. At the same time, radio telephony was introduced on passenger airplanes for air traffic security. Later radio telephony was introduced on a large scale in German tanks during the Second World War
. After the war German police in the British zone of occupation first used disused tank telephony equipment to run the first radio patrol cars. In all of these cases the service was confined to specialists that were trained to use the equipment. In the early 1950s ships on the Rhine were among the first to use radio telephony with an untrained end customer as a user.

Two-way radios (known as mobile rigs) were used in vehicles such as taxicabs, police cruisers, and ambulances, but were not mobile phones because they were not normally connected to the telephone network. Users could not dial phone numbers from their vehicles. A large community of mobile radio users, known as the mobileers, popularized the technology that would eventually give way to the mobile phone. Originally, mobile two-way radios were permanently installed in vehicles, but later versions such as the so-called transportables or "bag phones" were equipped with a cigarette lighter plug so that they could also be carried, and thus could be used as either mobile or as portable two-way radios. During the early 1940s, Motorola developed a backpacked two-way radio, the Walkie-Talkie
and later developed a large hand-held two-way radio for the US military. This battery powered "Handie-Talkie" (HT) was about the size of a man's forearm.

In 1946 soviet engineers G. Shapiro and I. Zaharchenko successfully tested their version of a radio mobile phone mounted inside a car. The device could connect to local telephone network with a range of up to 20 kilometers.

Top of cellular telephone tower In December 1947, Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young, Bell Labs engineers, proposed hexagonal cells for mobile phones in vehicles. Philip T. Porter, also of Bell Labs, proposed that the cell towers be at the corners of the hexagons rather than the centers and have directional antennas that would transmit/receive in three directions (see picture at right) into three adjacent hexagon cells. The technology did not exist then and the frequencies had not yet been allocated. Cellular technology was undeveloped until the 1960s, when Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs developed the electronics.

During the
1950s the experiments of the pioneers started to appear as usable services across society, both commercially and culturally. In the 1954 movie Sabrina, the businessman Linus Larrabee (played by Humphrey Bogart
) makes a call from the phone in the back of his limousine.

In 1957 young Soviet radio engineer
Leonid Kupriyanovich from Moscow created the portable mobile phone, named after himself as LK-1 or "radiophone". This true mobile phone consisted of a relatively small-sized handset equipped with an antenna and rotary dial
, and communicated with a base station. Kupriyanovich's "radiophone" had 3 kilogram of total weight, could operate up to 20 or 30 kilometers, and had 20 or 30 hours of battery lifespan. LK-1 and its layout was depicted in popular Soviet magazines as Nauka i zhizn, 8, 1957, p. 49, Yuniy technik, 7, 1957, p. 43–44. Engineer Kupriyanovich patented his mobile phone in the same year 1957 (author's certificate (USSR Patent) # 115494, 1.11.1957). The base station of LK-1 (called ATR, or Automated Telephone Radiostation) could connect to local telephone network and serve several customers.

In 1958, Kupriyanovich resized his "radiophone" to "pocket" version. The weight of improved "light" handset was about 500 grams.

In 1967, each mobile phone had to stay within the cell area serviced by one base station throughout the phone call. This did not provide continuity of automatic telephone service to mobile phones moving through several cell areas.

In 1969, a patent for a wireless phone using an acoustic coupler for incoming calls was issued in
US Patent Number 3,449,750 to George Sweigert of Euclid, Ohio on June 10, 1969. Dialing a number for outgoing calls was not provided.

The concepts of
frequency reuse and handoff, as well as a number of other concepts that formed the basis of modern cell phone technology, were described in the 1970s. In 1970 Amos E. Joel, Jr., another Bell Labs engineer, invented an automatic "call handoff" system to allow mobile phones to move through several cell areas during a single conversation without loss of conversation. Also Fluhr and Nussbaum, Hachenburg et al. , and U.S. Patent 4,152,647, issued May 1, 1979 to Charles A. Gladden and Martin H. Parelman, both of Las Vegas, Nevada and assigned by them to the United States Government.
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