Martin Cooper placed the world’s first cellular phone call in New York on this date in 1973. Cooper was a vice president of Motorola and led the team that created the phone. His call went to Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs, who was also working on cellphone technology together with Richard Frenkiel. The phone that Cooper’s team invented weighed two and a half pounds and cost $9,000 in today’s dollars. “The battery lifetime was 20 minutes,” said Cooper, “but that wasn’t really a big problem because you couldn’t hold that phone up for that long.”

“We had no idea that in as little as 35 years more than half the people on Earth would have cellular telephones, and they give the phones away to people for nothing.” —Martin Cooper