The concept of cellular phones has been around since the late 1940s. Yet, it wasn’t until the mid-1950s that technology was able to allow the idea to become a reality. It took a few decades to figure out how to make the technology work for ordinary routine calls. It was Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, who made the first cell phone call on April 4, 1973 to Dr. Joel S. Engel at Bell Labs. It would be another decade still before the technology was made available to consumers. The world of communication has not been the same since.
1G (First generation)—the first analog cellular system is widely deployed in the United States
The first analog cellular system is called 1G (1st Generation). Quickly, several companies sprout up and build an analog cellular network. What is an analog system? It’s a system designed to send sound signals of varying frequencies to transmit information.
2G (2nd Generation)—the first digital cellular phone system emerges
Digital 2G quickly displaces analog 1G networks. Instead of using varying sound frequencies, this new digital system translates everything into a string of data points - Os and 1s. 2G makes it possible to transmit information significantly faster than the analog system, and is able to support photos, music, and texting (Short Message Service or “SMS”), while protecting our privacy more effectively.
3G (3rd Generation)—the next generation of digital cellular phone systems is introduced
The launch of 3G networks represents a turning point for the potential of what cellular data systems can support. Due to the vastly improved speeds and much stronger capacity to carry information, a phone might be able to do more than just talk and text.
The iPhone is born
Apple introduces the iPhone and the smartphone as we know it is born. Apple takes advantage of the increased speed and capacity of 3G. Now, your phone actually becomes much more than a mechanism to talk and text.
The smartphone also changes the way we interact and command a phone by launching the touchscreen; we now tap and swipe. Additionally, Apple opens up a whole new world of possibilities with the advent of “apps” (custom designed applications and functions). The consolidation of our personal technology to one device begins.
4G (4th generation)—the next generation of digital cellular phone systems is introduced
4G represents an even more pronounced development in terms of speed and volume of data for a cellular network. While carriers transition to 4G, devices are still not utilizing the full capacity a 4G network can provide. Think of it as trying to get a sip of water from Niagara Falls and you can see the problem.
5G is now being tested
It’s still not known exactly when the 5G network will be available, but we do know that when it happens it will represent another transformation in the landscape of personal technology. Suffice it to say, we’ll have a new environment with new options to explore when 5G is launched.