Ericsson introduced the world's first fully automatic mobile telephone system in 1956, a breakthrough that has dramatically changed the way people communicate with each other. Fifty years on, more than 2.5 billion people in the world now own a mobile phone.
Mobile communication has become one of the most important technological innovations of all time and an important driver for economic and social development. The pioneering system Ericsson developed in 1956 paved the way for today's 3G mobile broadband networks.
Ericsson President and CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg says: "Today, mobile communication is part of everyday life for nearly a third of the world's population. Back in the days of our founder, Lars Magnus Ericsson, people were already saying that communication is a fundamental human need. Here at Ericsson, we are proud of our leadership of the industry and that we have developed attractive and easy-to-use mobile services for billions of users worldwide."
The world's first fully automatic system, simply called Mobile Telephony A (MTA), was used by a few hundred subscribers, mostly such salaried professionals as lawyers and doctors in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden. Requiring no manual control of any kind, users only had to dial numbers on a telephone to make a call.
Built for the Swedish Telecommunications Administration (now TeliaSonera), the system operated in the 160MHz band using pulsed signaling between the terminal and base station and it could handle about 100 users apiece.
Early mobile telephony was synonymous with car phones or voice communication over a mobile radio in a car, and the equipment was a far cry from the pocket-sized devices people now enjoy. The associated MTA radio equipment weighed more than 40kg and was only designed with installation in the trunk of a vehicle in mind.
The expertise Ericsson gained from its first systems laid the groundwork for a vision that has stood the test of time. In 1981, Ericsson launched the first modern mobile telephony system, Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT). Ericsson was also a driver of the GSM global standard, which was introduced in 1991 as a Pan-European mobile system and later evolved into a true global one.
The 50th anniversary of this historic event is being celebrated on October 17 with the inauguration of Fifty Years of Mobile Telephony, a month-long telephony exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden. This will be accompanied by an international conference on October 26, also in Stockholm.
Worlds First Mobile Phone - An MTA Handset
The handset fitted into a car
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