Years before Captain Kirk flipped open his communicator, police detective Dick Tracy was chatting up the chief on his wrist radio. Martin Cooper says that if his inspiration for the mobile phone came from anywhere, it came from here.

Dick Tracy Wrist Radio

Martin Cooper is the man considered to be the father of the cell phone. Though many have attributed his idea to the communicators of Star Trek, he says the idea for the mobile phone had been floating around in his mind for quite a while. People were mobile creatures and Cooper knew there was a future beyond waiting at your desk for a call, or even beyond car phones—the big new thing in phone tech. He wanted to create a handheld phone that could be carried anywhere.

In 1973, Cooper found success. The concept of communicators and wrist radios was no longer science fiction—it was reality. Cooper himself made the first cell phone call to Joel Engel at AT&T’s Bell Labs, Motorola’s rival company. Sure, it was a brick of a phone, weighing in at 2 1/2 pounds. But Cooper made the call from a sidewalk in midtown Manhattan, and that’s something to brag to your competitors about.

Martin Cooper, the father of the cell phone

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