The Interview: Marty Cooper – inventor of the mobile phone

6 Jun 2014

Ireland welcomed tech royalty recently with the arrival of Marty Cooper, inventor of the first mobile phone, who spoke to us about the first ever mobile call in 1973.

On 3 April of that year, Cooper had achieved something that had never been done before, that was, the first truly mobile phone that didn’t need an accompanying backpack with radio equipment or wires.

Working with Motorola, Cooper and a team of engineers had created the DynaTAC 8000x (DYNamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) phone, weighing in at just over 1kg and was a brilliant example of engineering under pressure as the first two prototypes used on that day were constructed – for the first time ever – in a matter of only 90 days.

The ‘brick’ phone as it became known, was certainly not designed for everyday use by that stage of its timeline as on a single charge the phone could last for 20 minutes of call-making, after which it would require a solid 10 hours of charging.

However, on that April day, Cooper and dozens of journalists gathered in New York City to see the inventor call Motorola’s biggest rival in developing the mobile phone – Dr Joel S. Engel, head of Bell Labs – and say: “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone.”

41 years on, Cooper was invited to take part in the inaugural EXCITED digital learning festival that was held on the June bank holiday weekend to speak to teachers, students and those passionate about implementing technology in education.

Marty Cooper – Inventor of the mobile phone 


Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic