• Dec 26, 1928
    (b.) - ?

Bio/Description

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, he is a pioneer and visionary in the wireless communications industry. With eleven patents in the field, he is widely regarded as one of the leading inventors of our time and recognized as an innovator in radio spectrum management. While at Motorola in the 1970s, he conceived the first handheld mobile phone (distinct from the car phone) and led the team that developed it and brought it to market. He is considered the "father of the cell phone" and is also cited as the first person in history to make a handheld cellular phone call in public. He is co-founder of numerous successful communications companies with his wife and business partner Arlene Harris; also known as the "first lady of wireless". He is currently co-founder and Chairman of Dyna LLC, in Del Mar, California. He also sits on committees supporting the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Department of Commerce. He graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in 1950. After graduating he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves where he served as a submarine officer during the Korean War. In 1957 he went on to earn his Master's degree from IIT in Electrical Engineering and in 2004 IIT awarded him an honorary Doctorate degree. He serves on the University's Board of Trustees. He left his first job at Teletype Corporation in Chicago in 1954 and joined Motorola, Inc. (Schaumburg, Illinois) as a Senior Development Engineer in the Mobile Equipment group. He developed many products including the first cellular-like portable handheld police radio system, produced for the Chicago police department in 1967. By the early 1970s, he headed up Motorola's Communications Systems division. Here he conceived of the first portable cellular phone in 1973 and led the 10-year process of bringing it to market. Car phones had been in limited use in large U.S. cities since the 1930s but he defied the industry's narrow vision of car phones and championed cellular telephony for personal, portable communications. He knew that people needed freedom that comes from anytime, anywhere telephony. He knew the cellular phone should be a "personal telephone – something that would represent an individual so you could assign a number; not to a place, not to a desk, not to a home, but to a person." He has stated his vision for the handheld device was inspired by Captain James T. Kirk using his Communicator on the television show Star Trek. Top management at Motorola was supportive of his mobile phone concept; investing $100M between 1973 and 1993 before any revenues were realized. He assembled a team that designed and assembled a product that had never been built; a task they accomplished in less than 90 days. That original handset, called the DynaTAC 8000x (DYNamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) weighed 2.5 pounds, measured 10 inches long and was dubbed "the brick" or "the shoe" phone. A very substantial part of the DynaTAC was the battery which weighed 4 to 5 times more than a modern cell phone. Additionally, the phone had only 20 minutes of talk time before requiring a 10-hour recharge but according to him, "The battery lifetime wasn't really a problem because you couldn't hold that phone up for that long!" By 1983 and after four iterations, the handset was reduced to half its original weight. He is the lead inventor named on "radio telephone system" filed on October 17, 1973 with the US Patent Office and later issued as US Patent 3,906,166. John F. Mitchell, He and his manager, Motorola's Chief of Portable Communication Products, along with the engineers who worked for them are also named on the patent. On April 3, 1973 he and Mitchell demonstrated two working phones to the media and to passers-by prior to walking into a scheduled press conference at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan. Standing on Sixth Avenue near the Hilton, he made the first handheld cellular phone call in public from the prototype DynaTAC. The call connected him to a base station Motorola had installed on the roof of the Burlingame House (now the Alliance Capital Building) and into the AT&T land-line telephone system. Reporters and onlookers watched as he dialed the number of his chief competitor, Dr. Joel S. Engel, who was head of Bell Labs. "Joel, this is Marty. I'm calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone." That public demonstration landed the DynaTAC on the July 1973 cover of Popular Science Magazine. As he recalls from the experience: "I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter – probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life." That first cell phone began a fundamental technology and communications market shift to making phone calls to a person instead of to a place. Bell Labs had introduced the idea of cellular communications in 1947 but they wanted the first system limited to car phones which required roughly 30 pounds of equipment in the trunk. The technological breakthrough which he engineered demonstrated the kind of creative innovation that competition could bring; resulting in a major achievement for Motorola. They gained Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for cellular licenses to be assigned to competing entities and prevented an AT&T monopoly on cellular service. He worked at Motorola for 29 years; building and managing both its paging and cellular businesses. He also led the creation of trunked mobile radio, quartz crystals, oscillators, liquid crystal displays, piezo-electric components, Motorola A.M. stereo technology and various mobile and portable two-way radio product lines. He rose through the ranks to become Vice-President and Corporate Director of Research and Development at Motorola. In addition to his ground-breaking work on the mobile cellular phone, he was instrumental in significantly expanding the technology of pagers from use within a single building to use across multiple cities. He also fixed a flaw in quartz crystals used in Motorola's radios which encouraged the Company to mass-produce the first crystals used in wrist watches. In 1983, the first commercial cellular phone service began operation in the United States and the DynaTAC phone became available to consumers at a list price of around $4,000 (2011: $9,000) but he left Motorola before the launch. In that same year, he co-founded Cellular Business Systems, Inc. (CBSI) and helped lead it to dominate the cellular billing industry with 75 percent market share. In 1986, he sold CBSI to Cincinnati Bell (now Convergys) for $23m. He and his wife Arlene Harris founded Dyna LLC in 1986 as a home base for their various developmental and support activities surrounding the incubation of new ideas and new companies. Subscriber Computing Inc., Cellular Pay Phone, Inc. (CPPI), SOS Wireless Communications and Accessible Wireless; the latter two of which together created the underpinning for the creation of GreatCall, were all launched from Dyna LLC. From his Dyna headquarters he continues to write and lecture around the world about wireless communications, technological innovation, the Internet and R&D management. He also serves on a variety of industry, civic and national governmental groups including the U.S. Department of Commerce Spectrum Advisory Committee that advises the Secretary of Commerce of the United States on spectrum policy and the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Technological Advisory Council. In 1986 he co-founded Cellular Payphone Inc. (CPPI), the parent company of GreatCall, Inc. – Innovator of the Jitterbug cell phone (in partnership with Samsung). GreatCall is the first complete end-to-end value-added service provider in the cellular industry to focus on simplicity with primary emphasis on boomers and senior citizens. In 1992 he co-founded Arraycomm a developer of software for mobile antenna technologies used for both mobile telephones and long-range wireless internet. Under his leadership, the Company grew from a seed-funded startup in San Jose, California into the world leader in smart antenna technology with 400 patents issued or pending, worldwide. He found that the ability to transmit different radio communications simultaneously and in the same place has grown at the same pace since Guglielmo Marconi's first transmissions in 1895. This knowledge led him to formulate the Law of Spectral Efficiency, otherwise known as Cooper's Law. The Law states that the maximum number of voice conversations or equivalent data transactions that can be conducted in all of the useful radio spectrum over a given area doubles every 30 months. Among his latest publications are: “The Myth of Spectrum Scarcity” Position Paper, March 2010; “Mobile WiMax – Fourth-Generation Wireless,” Bechtel Communications Technical Journal, September 2007; “The Need for Simplicity,” in the anthology “Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives on the Future of Behavior Change,” published by Stanford University in 2007; “Antennas Get Smart” in Scientific American, July 2003; “Personal Communications in 2025” for Eta Kappa NU Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society, Autumn 2005; and “Everyone is Wrong” in Technology Review, June 2001. He has received numerous awards, among which are: in1984 – IEEE Centennial Medal and Fellow; in 1995 – Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award; in 1996 – Radio Club of America Fred Link Award and Life Fellow with the International Engineering Consortium; in 2000 – "Red Herring" Magazine Top Ten Entrepreneurs of 2000; in 2000 – RCR Wireless News Hall of Fame Inaugural Member; in 2002 – American Computer Museum George Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award; in 2002 – Wireless Systems Design Industry Leader Award; in 2006 – CITA Emerging Technologies Award; in 2007 – Wireless World Research Forum Fellow; in 2007 – Global Spec Great Moments Engineering Award; in 2008 – CE Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame Award; in October 2008 – Wireless History Foundation, Top U.S. Wireless Innovators of All Time; in 2009 – Prince of Asturias Award for scientific and technical research; in 2009 – Life Trustee, Illinois Institute of Technology; in 2010 – Radio Club of America, Lifetime Achievement Award; in 2011 – Inaugural Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World Awards Nominee; in 2011 – Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement; in 2012 – Washington Society of Engineers, Washington Award; in 2013 – Charles Stark Draper Prize, National Academy of Engineering; and in 2013 – Marconi Prize. In October 2010 he became a Member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a member of Mensa.
  • Date of Birth:

    Dec 26, 1928
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    Lead inventor of the "radio telephone system" - the first handheld mobile phone for personal use
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: