A cell phone advertisement recorded in the 1940s was recently unearthed. open cultureThis shows a working cell phone long before there were iPhones and 80s Wall Street guys.
The ad begins by trying to explain the benefits of being able to communicate while on the move.
“Trailer trucks come on the highway miles from the nearest town,” says the narrator, focusing on selling phones to businesses. “Let’s say it’s important for someone to get in touch with the drivers of this team. How can we do that?”
The two colleagues then have a rather mundane conversation about making a pickup at a local depot that may have actually been an email while demonstrating the miracles of modern technology. This ad provides another example of how having someone to talk to when your car breaks down can help.
“This is a mobile phone service. In this service, the conversation is halfway wireless and halfway over the phone line.” Announcer explains.
“In order to reach vehicles traveling on intercity highways, a number of transmitting and receiving stations connected to telephone lines are spaced along the highway and are always within range of the moving vehicle. The antenna is preferably placed high, as high frequencies have a limited line-of-sight distance.”
The first call made through this system was made on October 2, 1946. motorola car radio phoneOperated by the Bell Telephone Company, the service quickly reached capacity due to the small number of available radio frequencies. They were also prone to interference and might not be able to speak to the same person who initiated the conversation down the highway.
“Channel signal levels may be weak beyond 25 miles, [40 kilometers]a 1979 paper on the Bell system explained“But still high enough to significantly interfere with other mobile communications on the same frequency within 60 to 100 miles. [100 to 160 kilometers] of land transmitters. “
This system survived until the 1980s, when it was replaced by cellular service. But for decades, people have been able to enjoy the futuristic inconvenience of being able to reach their boss while driving on the highway and the retro pleasure of having a phone call through an operator.