First Commercial Wireless Phone Call Made on October 13, 1983 at Soldier Field

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President of Ameritech Mobile Communication Bob Barnett, sitting in a Chrysler convertible parked next to Soldier Field on October 13, 1983, calls Mr. Alexander Graham Bell Grosvenor — the great grandson of inventor Alexander Graham Bell. YouTube Tips ⓘ

David D. Meilahn placed the first commercial wireless call (publicly available in the United States) to Ameritech Mobile Communication President Bob Barnett on a DynaTAC from his 1983 on October 13, 1983. Meilahn is the founder of the David Agency — an insurance company in Chicagoland. Meilahn was sitting in his Mercedes-Benz 380SL to Bob Barnett, former president of Ameritech Mobile Communications

President of Ameritech Mobile Communication Bob Barnett, sitting in a Chrysler convertible parked next to Soldier Field — then called Mr. Alexander Graham Bell Grosvenor in an international call using the cellphone mounted in his car. Grosvenor said, “My great-grandfather would be very proud that this call is going over the cellular technology through the landlines to a satellite across to Europe, and completing to him in his hotel.”

Alexander Graham Bell Grosvenor, who died on April 7, 1978, was the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone, and who co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T).

In 1983, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X cellphone or wireless phone became the first commercially available handheld cellular mobile phone.

Ameritech was created out of the 1984 divestiture AT&T, and was one of the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies that was created following the breakup of the Bell System. Ameritech was created as a holding company that owned five former Bell System companies in the Midwest — Illinois Bell Telephone Company, Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Inc., Michigan Bell Telephone Company, Ohio Bell Telephone Company, Wisconsin Bell, Inc.

Ameritech Cellular was initially known as Ameritech Mobile Communications, which was also owned by Ameritech and was the first company in the United States to provide mobile cellular service to the general public. Ameritech Mobile Communications exists today as Ameritech Mobile Communications, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility.

AT&T Mobility LLC, also known as AT&T Wireless or simply AT&T is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T Inc. With 101.6 million subscribers as of the end of Q1 2022, AT&T Mobility is the third-largest wireless carrier in the United States. Verizon Wireless is #1 in subscribers with about 143 million subscribers, and T-Mobile is #2 with about 110 million subscribers.

Ameritech was acquired in 1999 by SBC Communications, which then acquired AT&T Corporation in 2006 to become the present-day AT&T.

The first test of a cell phone was in April 1973 in New York City. Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first publicized handheld mobile phone call on a prototype DynaTAC model on April 3, 1973 while standing near the New York Hilton Midtown Manhattan Hotel at 6th Avenue and 54th Street. Cooper’s call was made to Bell Labs engineer Joel S. Engel, who was inside the Hilton where a press conference was scheduled to announce the new technology. The prototype phone that Martin Cooper used was connected to a special Motorola base station and antenna installed on the 50-story Burlington House (now known as 1345 Avenue of the Americas or the Alliance Bernstein building). The Motorola base station was then connected to the AT&T landline system.

Cooper then spent 10 years bringing the Motorola cellphone to market.

April 24 — In the 1960s and early ’70s, if you wanted to make a phone call, you did so from a device wired to the telephone grid. When AT&T launched their cellular system for car phones, Dr. Martin “Marty” Cooper and his team at Motorola decided to build a truly wireless mobile phone, a handheld device that would truly free consumers to communicate on the go. (Video by Jim Fabio, additional footage AT&T Archives & History Center) YouTube Tips ⓘ

The first commercial cellular network, the 1G generation, was launched in Japan by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in 1979, initially in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. The Bell System in the United States had developed cellular technology in 1947, and had cellular networks in operation in Chicago and Dallas prior to 1979, but the system wasn’t commercially available.

Other forms of mobile radio-telephone communication also existed separately in Sweden and Russia in the 1950s, and with a private tower facility in Brewster Kansas in the 1960s.



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