We are celebrating the extraordinary people responsible for invaluable technological innovations that have helped form the world as we know it. Their legacy cements them all in history as some of the brightest and most influential figures who continue to inspire today.


This blog examines engineer and ‘Father of the Mobile Phone’, Marty Cooper.


Marty Cooper’s Background


Martin ‘Marty’ Cooper was born on 26th December 1928 in Chicago to Ukranian parents, Arthur and Mary, who had emigrated to the USA. They were great believers of the importance of education. The young Marty had a great thirst for knowledge, taking his toys apart to find out how they worked and making his own magnifying glass out of a plastic bottle.


At school, Marty came across two teachers who would become the most influential figures in his life. His woodwork teacher, Mr. Kinney, put pressure on Marty to excel and become a perfectionist in everything he did. Miss Corrigan, Marty’s English teacher, gave him a passion for books and supported him in his interests by encouraging voracious reading.


Marty decided to pursue physics after school and was accepted into the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. However, one of the requirements of the course was an aptitude in chemistry. Marty’s dislike of the subject resulted in him switching from physics to engineering.


Scientific Beginnings


After Marty left university, he served in the Navy, followed by a brief time with AT&T. He spent a brief time with the company and moved on to Teletype Corporation. It was here that he was offered a job at Motorola, which dealt with radio related products at the time.


It was during Marty’s time at Motorola that he worked on projects surrounding wireless communications, leading to the creation of the first radio-controlled traffic-light system and handheld police radios.


His Contribution to Science


The first prototype of the mobile phone had been introduced in 1946 by AT&T, however they were not truly portable. They were very basic and could only run on a large amount of power from car batteries. As AT&T started to develop these mobile phones further to make them less dependent on car batteries, Motorola became keener to avoid the company from having a monopoly upon mobile phones. It was Marty who was tasked with creating a new mobile phone.


In 1973, Marty developed the DynaTAC (Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) phone. It weighed 2.5 pounds and allowed 35 minutes of usage before its battery ran down, but it allowed people to have the convenience of a portable phone.


After ten years of further development, with Marty at the helm, Motorola put the first mobile phone on the market. The price for one phone was $3,995, but they were an instant success. The same year in 1983, Marty left Motorola to found his own business. Cellular Business Systems Inc. (CBSI) became the leading company to specialise in mobile phone services. In 1986, Marty sold the business for $23 million and founded Dyna LLC with his wife, Arlene. Through the business, they launched several other companies specialising in developing software for wireless systems and mobile phones.


His Legacy


Marty’s role in wireless technology development has led to the evolution of one of the most significant products of the 21st century. His initial research and design was the precursor of the smartphone, which has become so integral to people’s everyday lives.


He has been awarded numerous accolades, including the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering in 2013. His achievements in the sector of wireless technology have led to Marty being known as ‘The Father of Mobile Phones’.


Ottilie WoodOttilie Wood, Marketing Executive based at K2 Partnering Solutions HQ in London.

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