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

Two Oak Bay officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

Oak Bay plans pop-up public consultation starting this week

Online survey now live at www.oakbay.ca and hard copy versions available at municipal hall

VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Six officers, including three school liaisons, to be reassigned to frontline duties

UPDATE: Recycling truck destroyed by fire in Victoria

Emterra truck sitting on McLure Street in residential neighbourhood, driver safe

Victoria Shamrocks acquire NLL and MSL all-star

Rob Hellyer brings offensive power to the Shamrocks

Artist crafts conversation with days-long painting in Uplands

‘I’m interested in the conflation of natural with human as if they express one another’

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of April 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Arrests made after truck crashes into unmarked police cars in Nanaimo

Two men facing numerous charges after allegedly fleeing scene on the mid-island

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

Most Read