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40 Years Ago Wednesday: First Ever Cell Phone Call Made In NYC

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000, seen during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show January 8, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000, seen during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show January 8, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Forty years ago on Wednesday, an inventor named Martin Cooper made the very first cell phone call in history in Midtown Manhattan.

Walking across Sixth Avenue near the New York Hilton Midtown on April 3, 1973, Cooper, of Motorola, called his rival – Joel Engel of Bell Labs – to brag about his successful invention. Engel had been working on cell phone technology at the same time.

“Joel, this is Marty,” Cooper said as a crowd watched him dial the number and make the cell phone call. “I’m calling you from a cell phone – a real hand-held portable cell phone.”

Cooper looked back on the call in a 2010 interview with Morley Safer of “60 Minutes.”

“There was silence on the other end of the line, and he said something very nice and polite,” Cooper said. “And to this day, he doesn’t remember that phone call.”

Trying to cross the street with a cell phone proved to be more dangerous than Cooper had realized.

“Talking on the phone, totally engrossed, and I step out onto the street, and this reporter I was talking to had to pull my arm and pull me back,” Cooper told Safer. “(I was) just about to get hit by a New York taxicab.”

The cell phone Cooper used was a DynaTAC phone, which weighed about 2.2 pounds and was 10 inches long, CBS News recalled.

Cooper and his colleagues filed their patent for a “radio telephone system” in October 1973, but the cell phone didn’t become available to the public until 1983. The DynaTAC initially cost $4,000, CBS News recalled.

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