When mobile phones were first invented in the 1940s, they were just analog radios driven from a car battery. The system was aptly named Mobile Telephone System (MTS), and it was woefully inadequate. In spite of the high cost of service, waiting lists to obtain the service were long because MTS offered only a few channels in any geography. An "improved" version called IMTS, introduced in the 1960s, helped some, but was still far short of the demand.

The first analog cellular radio mobile phone systems started to appear in 1969 and the early 1970s—with phones still the size of a briefcase. The various cellular technologies in North America converged around the Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) standard, still analog technology but now based on cellular radios that could reuse the frequency spectrum and were standardized across manufacturers. At this time Europe had no less than nine different analog mobile phone technology standards, one for each major region and country in the continent.

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