The inventor of the world’s first mobile phone says he’s stunned by the amount of time people are now wasting on their devices, and asks users to “get a life.”
Martin Cooper, 92, made the remark during an interview with “BBC Breakfaston Thursday, in response to a co-host who claimed she spends upwards of five hours a day on her phone.
“‘Do you really? Do you really spend five hours a day? Get a life!” He said before bursting into laughter.
Chicago-based Cooper invented the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X – the world’s first cell phone – in 1973.
The engineer has been working at Motorola for more than two decades and has been frustrated by the growing popularity of car phones.
“People were connected to their offices and kitchens over 100 years ago, and now they’re going to connect us to our cars, which is where we spend 5% of our time?” Cooper recalled reflecting on a recent interview with CBS News.
He then came up with the idea of making a cellphone that people could bring with them to their car, but also take out of the car and use while they were out and running errands.
Before focusing on the mechanics of a mobile phone, he imagined what the device would look like, saying he wanted it to be “small enough to fit in your pocket, but big enough that it can go between your ears and your mouth.”
Cooper wanted everyone to have their own phone number – what he now calls his “biggest achievement”. Until that time, phone numbers were associated with places, such as a home, car, or office.
Motorola then poured millions into Project Cooper and it took the engineer and his team just three months to make the phone, given that they had used similar technology to assemble police radios previously.
Once complete, the device was named Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. It weighed 2 pounds and was 10 inches long. It only lasted 25 minutes before the battery died and took 10 hours to recharge.
On April 3, 1973, Cooper made the first phone call ever made using the device, and decided to call his rival, Joel Engel, who was working as a chief engineer at AT&T.
The event was held outdoors in front of reporters in midtown Manhattan, where Cooper called Engel’s landline.
“Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real cell phone,” he said, as reporters watched on in amazement.
The phone didn’t hit the market for another decade, and was released to the public in 1983. It cost $3,995.
Cooper wrote about the invention of the telephone in his memoir Cut the Rope, which was released last year. He told CBS News that the movie studios have already approached him about a potential film adaptation.
Now, nearly half a century after Cooper’s invention, Americans are addicted to their machines.
A 2021 survey of 2,028 Americans by Statista found that 46% of respondents spent five to six hours on their phone each day. Eleven percent of respondents spent a staggering seven hours or more on their devices.