Kirkcud­bright Probus

The Galloway News - - DISTRICT NEWS -

Ron McHugh spoke about the his­tory of the mo­bile phone at ameet­ing of Kirkcud­bright and Dis­trict Probus Club.

The de­vel­op­ment of the mo­bile phone dates back to the walkie-talkie used in­WorldWarTw­o. It was a mas­sive ra­dio car­ried like a ruck­sack on the sol­dier’s back with a long whippy aerial. It used low fre­quency and had a long range. Mod­ern mo­bile phones use high fre­quency so can only be used over short dis­tances.

The first steps in the de­vel­op­ment of the mo­bile phone sys­tem oc­curred in 1947 when the Bell lab­o­ra­to­ries came up with the idea of split­ting the coun­try into blocks or cells each served by a base sta­tion with a mast.

When mov­ing to a dif­fer­ent cell peo­ple re­ceived a dif­fer­ent fre­quency.To work it needed the minia­tur­i­sa­tion of the elec­tron­ics and the de­vel­op­ment of com­put­ers which could han­dle the au­to­matic switching of fre­quen­cies as the user moved be­tween cells.

Set­ting up so many base sta­tions and the in­fra­struc­ture was very ex­pen­sive and re­quired both com­mer­cial and gov­ern­men­tal support. So it was not un­til 1985 that the first mo­bile phone net­work in the UK was switched on using a sys­tem de­vel­oped in Amer­ica.

The phones worked well in open spa­ces but in towns the sig­nal bounced around off build­ings so re­cep­tion could be er­ratic.

De­spite this, the brick sized phones be­came a must-have sta­tus sym­bol. By 1987 there were 150 cells. They proved to be very prof­itable.Vo­da­phone made 45 per cent profit on their in­vest­ment in one year. Much of this suc­cess was due to the fact that the mo­bile phones could not only talk to each other but could link to the land­line net­work. One dis­ad­van­tage was that any­one with a scan­ner could lis­ten in to con­ver­sa­tions from mo­bile phones.

The first gen­er­a­tion mo­bile phones were ana­logue. In 1982, 25 Euro­pean or­gan­i­sa­tions be­gan to pool their re­sources to de­velop a digital sys­tem.They col­lab­o­rated to solve technical prob­lems and worked to­gether to es­tab­lish a net­work. Amaz­ingly it worked. In the USA on the other hand, a large num­ber of com­pa­nies each de­vel­oped their own sys­tems which ini­tially re­sulted in phones from one area not work­ing in other ar­eas. By 1995, the Euro­pean sys­tem was used by 86 coun­tries and by 1997 it linked 110 coun­tries

The first gen­er­a­tion mo­bile phones could be tapped into by a scan­ner.The digital phones use en­cryp­tion which scram­bles the con­ver­sa­tions and pro­tects the sub­scriber’s iden­tity.These phones could also ac­cess the in­ter­net.Tex­ting was added as an af­ter­thought. Be­fore the de­vel­op­ment of mo­bile phones there were pagers which could alert peo­ple with a short mes­sage.This sys­tem was in­cor­po­rated into the mo­bile phone and in the first few years more money was earned from tex­ting than from speech.

These sec­ond gen­er­a­tion phones are the ba­sis of all sub­se­quent phones. Even 4G phones can still work in ar­eas with only sec­ond or third gen­er­a­tion phone cov­er­age.There are now more masts in each cell and the phone de­cides which gives the best sig­nal.

Progress in the de­vel­op­ment of the mo­bile phone net­work was due to what was the most suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional peace­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion of the world ever.

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