'70s Era Chicagoans Tried Out Nation's First Public Cell Phones (VIDEO)
Providing a bit of a history lesson for otherwise unaware Chicagoan tech-heads, the AT&T Tech Channel Monday unearthed a short video profiling early adapters of cell phones in the Windy City. You can practically hear the disco beats pulsating off in the distance in the background of many of these retro-tastic shots.
Chicago, as the blog reports, was home to the first-ever U.S. trial run of mobile phones for the public via AT&T-owned Bell System's test cellular network. Tested in 1978 by some 1,300 oversized glasses-wearing, feathered haircut-sporting customers, the network, then called the "Advanced Mobile Phone Service" (AMPS) allowed for phones to be used "on the go" for the first time, as its signal source switched from tower to tower as its users travel in the car -- a process the video excitedly demonstrates.
"It makes us the fastest people on the street," proclaims one shaggy-haired business owner wearing rose-tinted glasses in the video, embedded below.
"With the new system and its transmission and reception, it's just like my calling across the hall here to another office," another man says. "With the old system, it was like speaking through an overseas telephone."
Of course, many AT&T users in Chicago today can still relate to that "overseas telephone" feeling due to the endless dropped calls and generally unpredictable reception but, hey, this puts that experience into a bit of historical context at least. It wasn't until 1982 that the FCC approved commercial cell phones, according to AT&T. By 1984, there were 25,000 cell phone users nationwide -- 100 million by 2000.
Hat tip to Mental Floss for bringing this gem of a video to our attention.