Communicator: First cellphone call made 45 years ago


More than 50 years after the launch of Star Trek, much of the technology prefaced in the show has come to fruition. Today, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first cellphone call. For Star Trek fans, the cellphone answered the dream of obtaining a communicator.

Star Trek communicators. Here. Now. Amazing. It’s hard to believe 45 years have passed since the first cell phone call took place.

Communicators provided useful plot mechanics in the show. The communicator allowed characters to communicate over large distances. They also provided a key component to many a plot as communicators were often seized by never-do-wells along with phasers.

Life without a communicator could leave a crew member stranded anywhere.

We all know that feeling here in the 21st century. How many times have you turned your car around because you forgot your cellphone on the kitchen table?

Next: Star Trek Canon Loose Ends

Let’s go back in telecommunications history: On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell called to his assistant — all the way over in the next room — and uttered the words: “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.”

On April 3, 1973, a mere 97 years after Graham’s first call, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper stood in midtown Manhattan and called across the Hudson River to Bell Labs in New Jersey.

The first cell phone resembled more of a military communication set with a large handset, car antenna and cigarette lighter plug.

By 1989, the tech market rolled out a Star Trek-inspired “flip phone.”

How cool was it to flip open or close a phone in those days and think about your Star Trek dream being fulfilled? The wonderment of the tech coming to fruition in your lifetime?

Cellphone technology continues to gain momentum. The rollout of the “SmartPhone” in 2007 merged the Star Trek notepad/tablet, communicator and tri-corder into one easy-to-use device.

Cellphone Social Impact

Here’s a mix of the good and bad:

  • The ability to communicate from anywhere.
  • Permanent attachment and be-ready expectations from your employer.
  • Portability of email, video, contacts and photos.
  • Complete social phenomenon of photos, videos and capture of real-time events.
  • Complete breakdown of privacy due to data collection by a slew of companies and apps.
  • Addiction to applications and the phone overall.
  • Breakdown of normal human interaction thanks to texting, sexting, social apps, photos, video, etc.

Modern cellphone technology has exceeded the expectations created in Star Trek’s original series. Now if we can just get to work on that transporter…