Feature Article

September 04, 2013

Mobile Technology in Business through the Ages

If you have ever watched an old movie from the late 1940s then you most likely saw what could be considered mobile telephony in its infancy. Actually more like just home from the hospital. The first ever mobile phone call took place in 1946 by a truck driver in St Louis, MO.

Back in the day, when you picked up the receiver you were connected to the mobile operator. That person would place the actual call for you. The handset functioned more like a two-way radio than telephone. You needed to hold down a button to talk and release it to listen.

In 1949, the first pager was patented. Since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not approve its use until 1958, the device was not available to everyone. It was used mostly by doctors and first used in New York City’s Jewish Hospital.

Not much happened for almost 20 years. In 1965 AT&T made the first of some major improvements to mobile telephony. For lack of a better name AT&T launched Improved Mobile Telephone Service or IMTS. The use of additional radio channels gave the ability for more simultaneous calls in a given geographical area.

The next 20 years gave us the first mobile call from a mobile phone. That happened in 1973. If you watch a movie or TV show from the 70s you will see the large bulky “mobile” phone. It wasn’t too much smaller than a military walkie talkie but it did have a much smaller antenna.

In 1988, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association was created. Today, we know it as CTIA. It is an industry trade group that represents the international communication services and enhanced specialized mobile radio providers and suppliers. It also represents providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products.

Ericsson invented Bluetooth in 1994 and believe it or not the first camera phone photo was taken back in 1997. The following year I bought my first Motorola Flip Phone from AT&T. Battery life was about 20 minutes and I needed to carry it in my briefcase, along with extra battery packs.

Then things started to take off in 2000. That is when the first known mobile virus was identified. It seems that antivirus labs in Russia and Finland identified the “Timofonica” worm. This virus came to us from Spain.

BlackBerry launched their first smartphone in 2003. Now you could read your emails, send faxes and text messages and browse the Web on your BlackBerry device. A few years later smartphone technology was incorporated into ATMs. This allowed you real-time access to your accounts through an ATM.

Who can forget that in 2007 Apple launched the iPhone? This was a secretive collaboration with AT&T when it was known as Cingular Wireless. The Apple App Store launched the following year along with the mobile wallet platform.

A couple of years later Google created the Android platform. At that time it was a service that allowed you to browse and download music, magazine, books, movies, TV programs and applications that were published through Google.

That brings us up to the present, mobile technology that reminds us of Star Trek communicators. Did anyone ever notice that Star Trek’s tricorders were wireless devices, which in turn were wirelessly connected to the main computers on the ship?

So why the history through mobile technology memory lane? Well about 10 years ago when BlackBerry unveiled its first smartphone the technology was in its infancy. People were carrying their laptops and netbooks but still needed to plug into a company’s network to access the Internet.

Today we have about 98 percent of small businesses using wireless and mobile technology on a daily basis. In previous lifetimes when I ran IT departments I needed to attempt to setup video conferences. I say attempt because we had to set up video through landlines and they worked about 25 percent of the time.

Today, thanks to mobile technology, meeting can be conducted in real-time anytime, anywhere. For small businesses this means reduced travel costs leading to more productivity. You can say that mobile technology is making these businesses more profitable.

Now-a-days about 66 percent of small businesses say that they could not survive without mobile technology. At the very least it would be a major challenge for them to conduct business. The additional costs for travel, as well as other accommodations would most likely put them out of business.

As you can see from this brief his history, mobile technology started further back than most people think. Since the late 1940s it has made some pretty major strides. Now we are at an age where we are so comfortable with it that most time it’s taken for granted. How upset do people get when they go to an area that “I can’t get a signal!”

Mobile technology began about eight decades ago, it will be interesting to see just what the next few years will bring us.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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