Rubbing It In 

“Bell Labs, go away, I don’t need you.”

50 years ago this past Monday, one of the first cell phone calls was made by Marty Cooper:

On 3 April 1973, Marty Cooper stood on a corner of Sixth Avenue in New York and took a phone book from his pocket.

He then punched a number into a large, cream-coloured device and put it to his ear while passers-by stared at him.

Mr Cooper, an engineer at Motorola, rang his counterpart at rival firm Bell Laboratories, to triumphantly tell him he was calling from “a personal, handheld, portable cell phone”.

The first Motorola phone didn’t debut until 11 years later, and it offered a paltry 30 minutes of talk time, after which the battery needed to be charged for 10 hours. We’ve come a long, long way.