The Birth and Death of the Cell Phone

Martin Cooper changed the world when he made the first cell phone call 40 years ago, on a two-pound-plus Motorola DynaTAC phone. His first call: to the head of research at Bell Labs, a company that also was attempting to build the first cell phone. It would be over a decade before the first cell phone would be commercially available, but Cooper’s call opened the door to true mobility and continues to affect virtually every aspect of our lives.

The story of the birth of the modern cell phone has been told many times as a triumph of technology. While that’s partially true, the real story is much more complex. It is a David versus Goliath, outliers versus the establishment story. It’s about how the course of personal communications history was changed by a small company in Chicago that had a vision and defended that vision against two powerful adversaries – and prevailed. And it’s a story of a revolution in communications that has only just begun. Martin Cooper was present at the beginning and will talk about that conflict, and about his vision of a future in which wireless connectivity profoundly, and affirmatively, changes the world.

Martin Cooper is a pioneer in the wireless communications industry – an inventor, entrepreneur, and futurist. He has been a contributor to the technology of personal wireless communications for more than 50 years. He conceived the first portable cellular phone in 1973. He has been referred to as the ‘father’ of portable cellular telephony and is recognized as an innovator in spectrum management.Cooper was a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. Following military service, he became a division manager and head of R&D for Motorola over his 29-year tenure at the company. As a serial entrepreneur, Cooper has started a number of businesses including co-founding GreatCall, Inc., maker of the Jitterbug phone and service; ArrayComm, the world leader in smart antenna technology; and Dyna, LLC, a business incubator, where he currently serves as chairman. Cooper was an inaugural member of the Wireless History Foundation Wireless Hall of Fame. Red Herring magazine named him one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs of 2000, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania named him a Transformation Technology Change Leader, and he is a recipient of the IEEE Centennial Medal. In 2010, Cooper was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering and was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Science and Technology. In February 2013, Cooper was co-recipient of the Charles Stark Draper Prize, one of the world’s preeminent awards for engineering achievement. In September 2013, Cooper was awarded the coveted Marconi Prize.

Cooper holds a B.S. and an M.S. in electrical engineering and an honorary doctorate from Illinois Institute of Technology, on whose Board of Trustees he serves as a life trustee. John W. Rowe, chairman emeritus of Exelon Corporation, will moderate the program. The program will be introduced by IIT President John L. Anderson.

DETAILS: Monday, November 10, 3:30 p.m. Lecture, Hermann Hall Ballroom, 3241 South Federal Street. Chicago, IL, 60616, 5 p.m. Reception, Hermann Hall Gallery. Complimentary parking will be available in the A4 (32nd and State Streets) and B5 (32nd and Federal Streets), parking lots.

RSVP no later than November 9, 2014. Please register at GuI01ACSofHmTypNVn_8JF5ltKl9h9tChfY/viewform or by phoning 312-567-5196.

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