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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, a moment of innovation. Today, we look back at the birth of a tool that has changed the way we stay in touch with each other.

DR. MARTIN COOPER: My name is Martin Cooper. Forty years ago, I conceived of the world's first handheld cellular telephone and a few months later, had the privilege of making the world's first public cellular call in the streets of New York.

For years, my colleagues and I at Motorola had a dream. And that dream was that everyone someday would be free to talk wherever they were, would be unleashed from the copper wires that tied them to the network. And then the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, announced that they were about to make a decision.

They were about to decide whether AT&T would have a monopoly. And if AT&T had that monopoly, they were going to have cellular phones, but you'd be trapped in your car now instead of in your home or office. And at that moment, I decided that we were going to prove that the world is ready for handheld portable telephones so that people would have the freedom to be anywhere.

We had to break a number of barriers in order to create that first phone. And first of all, there were no large-scale integrated circuits. So we had to make that phone with thousands of individual parts. And the frequency band that the phone was in had never been used before, so we had to invent new devices, a new antenna. And furthermore, we had to come up with a form factor that could be held in someone's hand and that would look somewhat like a telephone.

We call that first phone the brick. And it really looked like a brick. It was about eight inches high, an inch and a half wide, four inches deep, weighed two-and-a-half pounds. The battery life was only 20 minutes, but that was not a problem because you couldn't hold that heavy things up for more than 20 minutes.

BLOCK: Martin Cooper on developing the first cell phone. He continues to develop new technologies in San Diego.

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