The Brick

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the first commercially available cell phone. First marketed in 1983, it was 13 X 1.75 X 3.5 inches in dimension, weighed about 2.5 pounds, and allowed you to talk for a little more than half an hour. It retailed for $3,995, plus hefty monthly service fees and per-minute charges.

We called it "The Brick," and the nickname stuck for many of those early mobile phones we alternatively loved and hated.About the size of a brick, with a battery power just long enough for half a conversation, these early mobile handsets were mostly seen in the hands of traveling business execs, security personnel, and the wealthy. First-generation mobile phones were just too expensive.The service charges alone would bankrupt the average person, especially when roaming.

Early mobile phones were not particularly full featured. (Although, even the Motorola DynaTAC, shown in Figure 1.2, had many of the buttons we've come to know well, such as the SEND, END, and CLR buttons.) These early phones did little more than make and receive calls and, if you were lucky, there was a simple contacts application that wasn't impossible to use.

Figure 1.2 The first commercially available mobile phone: the Motorola DynaTAC.

The first-generation mobile phones were designed and developed by the handset manufacturers. Competition was fierce and trade secrets were closely guarded. Manufacturers didn't want to expose the internal workings of their handsets, so they usually developed the phone software in-house.As a developer, if you weren't part of this inner circle, you had no opportunity to write applications for the phones.

It was during this period that we saw the first "time-waster" games begin to appear. Nokia was famous for putting the 1970s video game Snake on some of its earliest monochrome phones. Other manufacturers followed suit, adding games such as Pong,Tetris, and Tic-Tac-Toe.

These early phones were flawed, but they did something important—they changed the way people thought about communication. As mobile phone prices dropped, batteries improved, and reception areas grew, more and more people began carrying these handy devices. Soon mobile phones were more than just a novelty

Customers began pushing for more features and more games. But there was a problem. The handset manufacturers didn't have the motivation or the resources to build every application users wanted. They needed some way to provide a portal for entertainment and information services without allowing direct access to the handset.

What better way to provide these services than the Internet?

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