3 April 1973 -- Martin Cooper of Motorola makes the first call on a cellphone. You can see his witty reflections on that fatal first mobile call (to his counterpart at ATT, who actually pioneered the concept of mobile telephony), the cellphone's impact on society and his vision of the future in this CNN interview.
Cooper is right in saying that our lives have changed since the introduction of this device, but as Manuel Castells and colleagues suggest, it is not 'mobility' that makes the cell or mobile phone so powerful a tool, as they put it:
"The key feature in
the practice of mobile communication is connectivity
rather than mobility. This is because, increasingly, mobile communication takes
place from stable locations, such as the home, work, or school. But it is also used from everywhere else, and
accessibility operates at any time. So,
while in the early stages of wireless communication it was a substitute for the
fixed-line phone when people were on the move, mobile communication now
represents the individualized, distributed capacity to access the local/global
communication network from any place at any time. This is how it is perceived by users, and
this is how it is used. With the
diffusion of wireless access to the Internet, and to computer networks and
information systems everywhere, mobile communication is better defined by its
capacity for ubiquitous and permanent connectivity rather than its potential
mobility (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu and Sey, Mobile communication and society: A global perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007, p. 248) (emphasis added)."
Back to Martin Cooper, his vision of the future has cellular/wireless devices continuing to evolve to be even more hands-free and embedded. And, interestingly, in a sign of the times, the remote interview with Cooper in 2013 was conducted via Skype.
Update: May 2013
M.I.T.'s Technology Review suggests that the move to mobile business models is just beginning. See article, 'Mobile Computing is Just Getting Started.'