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

Paving complete, lines coming to the Malahat this week

$34 million safety project is 95 per cent complete with hope to relieve traffic congestion between Victoria and Nanaimo

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Only tent city residents allowed access at Goldstream Park campsites

Local RCMP point to reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area as cause for safety concerns

Future Bus looking for transit feedback

Sooke locations announced for Oct. 2 visit

Bear makes midnight front porch visit in Campbell River

A black bear paid a Campbell River family a midnight visit last… Continue reading

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Most Read