40 years ago this month, the world’s first cell phone was deployed on a commercial cellular network


Spencer Trask & Co. documents the origin of one of mankind’s most important innovations

GREENWICH, Connecticut., September 30, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Forty years ago this month, the world’s first portable cell phone service was launched in Sweden by Comvik (now Millicom International Cellular SA). This watershed moment in mobile history occurred in September 1981 when Comvik offered its new cellular service to subscribers. During the previous summer, the company converted an existing mobile truck dispatch system to a semi-automated cellular system designed by EF Johnson and Millicom. This first portable cellular offer was launched a month before the government-run Nordic mobile phone service, which Sweden the first country in the world with competitive cellular operators.

(PRNewsfoto / Spencer Trask & Co.)

Cellular service before Comvik came from Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in Tokyo, but it was seen more as a technical curiosity than a serious business entity. Although he used a cellular architecture, the NTT mobile phone was securely attached to the car. On the other hand, Comvik made available the first Cell phone that could be detached from the vehicle. Designed by EF Johnson & Co., Millicom and Nils martensson, the “lunchbox”, as it was called, was a radical innovation at the time and it will be another two years before the commercial introduction of the DynaTAC 8000X (ie the Motorola “Brick”) in Baltimore / Washington in December 1983. So, contrary to popular belief, the Brick was not the first portable cell phone.

Spencer trask & Cie. President Kevin Kimberlin, the first investor in Millicom who helped structure its first financing, reflected on this achievement, saying, “The pioneers of Comvik and Millicom paved the way for our mobile way of life today. They cracked the code to deliver the cell phone to the real world, a pivotal event in what has become a technological, cultural and social revolution. “

From this founding launch, the marketing of mobile telephony has developed considerably. When it comes to mass adoption and value, there are 10.4 billion connected mobile devices according to GMSA, and the industry has generated 1000 billion dollars in revenue in 2020. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, mobile subscribers spent 490 billion dollars last year using mobile money. Worldwide, mobile connectivity provided $ 4.4 trillion in economic activity, about 5.1% of world GDP.

Visit Spencer trask & Co. to Medium to learn more about the early days of mobile telephony and cell portability.

On Spencer trask & Cie.
Spencer trask & Co. is an advanced technology development company that starts, banks and builds new businesses from the idea stage to the global stage. The firm and its executives co-founded or funded for the first time global leaders in genomics, the Internet, mobile communications, health and artificial intelligence. By networking with smart entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and obsessive missionaries, Spencer trask & Co. helps create unique opportunities to make the world a better place. www.spencertraskco.com.



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