45 years ago, first mobile phone hit B.C. streets with spotty, expensive calling

Motorola celebrates 45th anniversary since unveiling of first-ever mobile phone on April 3, 1973

Today marks the 45th anniversary of an essential piece of technology we know maybe a little too well today, as the mobile phone hits four-and-a-half decades in the hands of Canadian consumers.

On April 3, 1973, Motorola unveiled the DynaTAC. Known as the “brick” phone, it measured 10 inches in length and weighed two pounds.

However, B.C. consumers had had to wait 10 years for the phone to pass federal approval in September of 1983 before they could invest $3,995 into the game-changing technology.

B.C. man Vid Wadhwani still remembers buying the phone – but said it was more for show than anything else.

“Because there were not as many cell towers, calls dropped all the time. There were many parts of Vancouver and areas that did not have cell coverage,” he said, noting it took years for the Marry Hill Bypass to gain reception.

But similar to today’s long lineups for the newest iPhone release, Wadhwani had to get his hands on the DynaTAC for both pleasure and work.

The phone carried a hefty price tag; about $9,000 in today’s dollars.

As a broker, taking calls at anytime from clients was a game changer, he said. Now a laughable memory of ’80s pop culture, the phone was “most likely to impress the chicks,” Wadhwani added.

In addition to spotty connection, the DynaTAC had its quirks, including some that wouldn’t fly in today’s world of constant communication. For one, an overnight charge got you 45 minutes of actual use.

“Back then you did not leave your phone on all the time,” he said. “Only when you thought you were going to need it.”

And then there was the cost of actually making a call. Each call was roughly 60 cents per minute, which would be about $1.30 now.

“If you talked for 61 seconds, you were charged $1.20,” he recalled.

Now owning the iPhone 8, with features like FaceTime and read receipts on text messages becoming commonplace amongst mobile users, Wadhwani said he never would have thought at the time that brick phone would be replaced by a mini-computer in his pocket.

“[It’s] a completely different world,” he said. “Very quick progression from back then that couldn’t have been imagined.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vid Wadhwani is a family member of Black Press Media reporter Ashley Wadhwani


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Man taken to hospital after rolling truck east of Clearwater

The driver went into the ditch at roughly 4:30 p.m. and suffered lower body injuries

UPDATED: One person killed in fiery crash near Barriere

Thursday evening crash involved three large semi-trailers and a passenger vehicle

Updated: RCMP find body of missing woman who fell into B.C. River

The body of Jessie Lavallee was found in the North Thompson River south of Barriere

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Updated: Police confirm death of woman at Wells Gray Park

She was with a group of people from Kamloops at Spahat Creek Falls when she fell about 500 feet

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a β€œone-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

B.C. man wins job he was denied after saying he had depression

Transport Canada has been order to give Chris Hughes a high-level job and nearly $500,000

B.C. soldier shot down a century ago to be honoured

Norman Stuart Harper, of Kamloops, was killed on a bombing mission over Lahr, Germany, in 1918

Trump sends letter to Trudeau calling for increase in NATO defence spending

The letter comes as tensions between Canada and the United States have risen to a dramatic high

Horse put down, 1 person in hospital after hit by car in Lower Mainland

Accident along 132nd Avenue in Maple Ridge Friday afternoon

Electoral reform vote in B.C. includes $500,000 each for pro and con groups

A mail-in ballot referendum will take place Oct. 22 to Nov. 30, asking two questions on voting

83-year-old inmate dies at medium-security prison in Mission

Correctional Services Canada says Ralph Whitfield Morris died in custody

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Most Read