First commerical cellphone service launched October 13, 1983 by Ameritech in Chicago. (Was it Ameritech or had it already changed from being Illinois Bell?)
12 years ago
First commerical cellphone service launched October 13, 1983 by Ameritech in Chicago. (Was it Ameritech or had it already changed from being Illinois Bell?)
Would anyone know how much it cost for the equipment, installation, and service back then, and how did the prices compare to traditional mobile phone service?
I think "brick" and "bag" cell phones were out fairly early, but I believe most initial cellular phone installations were in-car units, just like the older mobile units. I remember a Bell Atlantic store had a garage as part of it for car installations.
It didn't take long for the prices to drop to very reasonable levels. My first cell phone account gave me a Motorola flipset for free for $20/month for low offpeak usage. For me it was a good deal, though peak use was 75c/minute and roaming was $1.00/minute. I got for urgent use and it worked fine for that.
I recall watching a rerun of an old '90210' episode* and the character was driving his car while talking on the phone. The handset was corded and connected to the dashboard. It was strange seeing that given what we have today.
(*OT Aside: I meant someone who grew up in zip 90210 and went to the high school. She said they never appreciated the way the TV show portrayed them. The show was actually physically filmed at Torrance HS, which is used by many TV shows as a backdrop.)
In 1983, Chicago was still Illinois Bell. The official date of Divestiture was January 1, 1984.
Ref:Quoting from this link:
I also recall the scene in the movie Patriot Games (1992) where Ryan's wife was being pursued on a freeway and took a call on the car's corded cell phone.
Anyone else recall being oooohhed and aaaahhhed by cell phones back then? Car phones were such a status symbol during the mid-late 1980s and into the early1990s that I remember that at the time someone was selling fake cell phone antennae that could be mounted on the back windows of cars.
I believe that , electrically, they were a "5/8 wave" antenna -- if so, that would have given 3db of gain. Which equates to about a 40% larger service radius at any given signal strength.
IIRC, but I haven't worked with such antennas for _long_ time, the coil had an effect on the radiation pattern, concentration more of it closer to parallel to the 'ground plane', thus providing some additional 'effective' gain in the horizontal direction.
In my case getting a cell phone in 1992 was a necessity after an automobile "incident" on I-280 along the San Francisco Peninsula.
L-o-n-g story short, the thermostat spring in my car broke on the hottest day of the year (during Summer) and the car overheated. I thought I'd play safe and pull up into one of the rest stops before San Mateo for water, restroom and telephone facilities because car traffic along I-280 is akin to German autobahns and waiting along the narrow shoulder flanking a hill seemed neither safe nor wise.
Wouldn't you know it? Rest stop was simply a scenic outlook from the hilltop with NO water, NO toilets, and NO telephone. I was really getting dehydrated after several hours before a CHP officer pulled into the rest stop and called AAA on my behalf for a tow. Luckily for me, the CHP officer had water that I could drink.
That evening, back at home, I called my best friend who worked at HP Labs (Palo Alto CA) asking for advice and here's what we did. The next morning we went to the Cellular One store in Palo Alto that served HP (I recall it was at California St and El Camino) and arranged for me to buy the Motorola Micro TAC Lite on HP's discount plan which still placed it around US$700 IIRC. A pic of it is here .
The advantage of having a cellphone immediately because obvious. I could be reached at one number anywhere in the "civilized" portion of California (even Grass Valley way in the boonies), and I had a method of calling for help when needed.
"A luxury, once sampled, becomes a necessity." -- Anon
Back in the 1970s I knew someone who was an aide for a state senator*. He got to drive his car which had one of the old style mobile phones. I presume the pol got the phone back then due to his political position. I was quite envious. My friend said working the phone was just like a landline--incoming calls would ring and to make a call just dial. He had no idea of what it cost. He used it very sparingly, though.
Speaking of communications and cars, my friend had to drop off the car for repairs at a garage. In the back was a CB radio with various calls for auto parts. That was kind of thing back then.
(*Said politician served only one term. Now is a personal injury laywer who advertises big ads in the Yellow Pages, including the covers.)
I found the other comment interesting that cellular came out _before_ Divesture. I can't help but suspect that reporters talking about the old Bell System believe cellular service was one of the by-products of Divesture.
When did "they" make the decision to get rid of the pseudo dial tone? In one of the retrospectives at the last anniversary, the ABC (US tv network) shwed a clip from an early marketing demo.
What got my interest was the reporters were being walked through the process, with real cellular (or at least wireless) phones, which...
... which included a "listen for the dial tone"
Ours, which dated back to 1983 or so, was silent.
(We had one of the first transportable units. Size of a large book, working with a big Panasonic slide-in12 volt battery. Which was the same as the ones used by the camcorder/VCR combo at work...)
In 1984 GTE made Bag phone available for any employee that wanted to purchase them, I believe it was a Panasonic. When I got it the set was configured for Mobil Net, It came with 100 minutes; way before the time when you get minutes, I know what now, it was new and everyone started calling everyone they knew and the time was gone. Even then I really did not like to use telephones because I was on them all day, I just saved mine. The second day after I got the phone we were on a remote job site in the middle on no where and a car came flying past us on a dirt road and the next thing we see is dust as the car went over the roads end. We called 911 and then went to what happened. The CHP as well responded fire. To see the least the CHP was really surprised as never seen a portable phone before. Over the years I used that phone in some of the remotest parts of the state and it worked, as you said even in Grass Valley and Brownsville, today my Digital phone works fine in that area, but is spotty in Brownsville and most of the rest of the Yuba Foothills, I mess the days if the high power phones, thank god for Ham Radio.
| >Electrically, useless. For marketing, a stroke of genius. | | I believe that , electrically, they were a "5/8 wave" antenna ... | if so, that would have given 3db of gain.+---------------
The "5/8" was for pattern shapping, but for impedance-matching reasons it was usually implemented almost as a 1/4-wave end-feeding a 1/2-wave with a phase-reversing coil, also called a "phased colinear vertical dipole", which made them closer to 6/8 == 3/4 in actual length:... The maximum level of radiation at right angles to the antenna is achieved when the dipole is about 1.2 times the wavelength. ... When used as a vertical radiator against a ground plane this translates to a length of 5/8 wavelength. It is found that a five eighths vertical has a gain of close to 4 dB. ... For most applications, it is necessary to ensure that the antenna provides a good match to 50 ohm coaxial cable. It is found that a 3/4 wavelength vertical element provides a good match, and therefore the solution to the 5/8 wavelength antenna is to make it appear as a 5/8 radiator but have the electrical length of a 3/4 element. This is achieved by placing a small loading coil at the base of the antenna to increase its electrical length.
Later designs moved the base-loading coil to the intersection of the base-fed 1/4-wave and the end-fed 1/2-wave above it, which allowed a small amount of further radiation pattern tuning [and also helped with rigidity of the antenna, to avoid the "sway" common to antennas with base-loading coils].+--------------- | Which equates to about a 40% larger service radius at any given signal | strength. +---------------
If you say so. It was certainly a significant increase, whatever the value.+--------------- | IIRC, but I haven't worked with such antennas for _long_ time, the | coil had an effect on the radiation pattern, concentration more of it | closer to parallel to the 'ground plane', thus providing some additional | 'effective' gain in the horizontal direction. +---------------
Actually, it was more the 5/8 length that tweaked the radiation pattern desirably low; the coil was more for impedance-matching and/or phasing of the two colinear sections.
----- Rob Warnock627 26th Avenue San Mateo, CA 94403 (650)572-2607
***** Moderator's Note *****
It's funny how, now that the "loading" coil in the middle of the first cell antennas has served it's function of "loading" a cellphone into everyone's pocket, that "more efficient" design of yesteryear has been replaced with nearly-invisible low-profile radiators on cars with built-in cellphones. I mean, for sure, who wants to get caught with a coil in their antenna? That's so - Twentieth Century!
Better watch out, gentlemen: that "low angle" radiation might get through the car's thin skin and make you forget your dad's advice to take long-winded explanations with a grain of salt.
Bill Horne Moderator
One cellphone still gives a pseudo dial tone: Jitterbug, marketed to people who are cellphone-phobic.
In their user manualstate:
You can even call the operator to manage your phone's phonebook. Presumably, she can update your phonebook remotely.
That was not a CB radio, I hope, since commercial use of CB is pretty frowned upon.
What was common back then (and is still common) is a landline loop that connects a bunch of auto parts suppliers with "squawk boxes." It acts like a radio... you push the transmit button, it puts your voice out on the loop and you shout "need a hood ornament for a '52 Humbert Super Snipe" into the mike and it comes out of hundreds of speakers in auto recyclers around the country, and hopefully one of them comes back with one.
These days there are internet databases that do the same thing without requiring constant attention on the part of someone at each shop.
I think you are correct, Bill. I am the leader of the Amateur Radio exam team in my small town of Pahrump, NV, (35,000 population) halfway between Las Vegas, NV and Death Valley, CA. Last spring we were getting 10 to 13 candidates at our every-other-month exam sessions, vs. 2 or 3 candidates in the previous years. About a third have been young people. The Las Vegas exam team has been seeing similar increases in numbers.
The numbers have slackened off this summer, to 2 to 4 per session. But that's because it's so hot here in the summer (110 degres F), that many people go north to Montana and Idaho, returning in the autumn. We call them Snowbirds. I expect that this winter we will get large numbers of candidates again.
Of course, we help things along with study programs, in January for those who want an entry-level license, and in February for those who want to upgrade to the General Class license.
I sincerely hope that you are right about ham radio.
I'm going to share your note and Dick's note on our local radio club's mailing list.73,
"Front clip for a '68 T-Bird.... Need a front clip for a 68 T-Bird"
The junkyards all used to be on Hoot'nHoller loops, with some simple pricing mnemonic so the customer could not hear what the wholesale price was.
These were 4-wire multidrop loops, with a WE107 speaker and a500 set you picked up to talk.
I seem to be seeing an increase in the numbers of motor vehicles with amateur radio call sign plates around here in the Appleton, WI area, too. You can get car plates with your call sign here in Wisconsin, same as in many other states.
I also know some hams in the area who are in their 20s (I am a moderately active rail enthusiast and MANY railfans, especially younger ones, are also licensed hams).
I haven't yet taken the plunge into the ranks of licensed hams, though, but very well might someday. If and when I do, I'll likely limit myself to the VHF bands and not venture into the world of the high-power AM bands.
Michael, and other hams that may be on T.D.,
You can get your call sign on a license plate in all fifty states and most U.S. territories. Most states charge very little for ham radio plates because it helps the police and other rescue workers identify their vehicles when they are assisting in emergency situations. Here in New Mexico, it is only an extra five dollars per year above your regular renewal rate.
Check outSome of the links may be out of date. This is because DMVs sometimes their Web sites around and ARRL hasn't gotten the word about it.
If the links don't work, go to the Web site of your local DMV and search on 'amateur radio plate', 'ham radio tag', etc..
If you find the right link, there is an email link near the top of the page that you can send them the corrected link. They'll update it.73,
Let me expand on "modes":
Besides Morse code and phone (voice-modulated AM, FM, SSB), hams can and do use many other modes:
Digital modes: We couple computers to transceivers, and send words and data digitally. Amateur Packet Radio was developed in the late 1970's and early 1980's by coupling early computers (Atari, Apple I, etc.) to2-meter FM transmitters. Hams built a nation-wide digital network with email and bulletin board file systems years before the big Internet. Nowadays, this technology is used for emergency traffic on HF (short-wave) and VHF not only by hams but by the military's MARS system. RTTY (teletype) is an early digital mode. Nowadays, computer sound cards are used to generate and decode digital traffic in a multitude of modes. There are even specialized modes for communication using reflections from meteor trails which last for a second or two.
Image modes: Fast-scan live TV (initially NSTC in the US, PAL in Europe; now digital) on frequencies above 420MHz. Slow-scan TV (similar to facsimile) on lower frequencies, particularly HF.
We can use spread-spectrum.
My hearing is bad: High-frequency roll-off about 1500 Hz, and nearly deaf in one ear due to an attack of Shingles. So I have great difficulty hearing phone transmission on HF or any high pitched voice, such as a child or women. But I have no trouble with digital modes. At Field Day, I run one of the the digital-communication stations.
In Nevada where I live, it's $36 initially, $10 renewal extra over the cost of a non-personalized plate. Renewal is free if you file a form stating that you will be available for emergencies.
When I lived in New Hampshire 12 years ago, and I think it still is true today, a call sign plate is just a regular vanity plate with no special amateur designation.
Ham calls contain one numeral, from 0 to 9. Certain numerals, particularly 4 and 8, are popular for their phonetic quality (e.g., GR8 for great) with non-hams wanting vanity plates. This became such a problem in Florida (amateur call area 4) that hams got a law passed to forbid the DMV from issuing any plate with a possible ham call to anyone not possessing that call.
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