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The origins of mobile
Mobile telephones had been around for almost 60 years before we got our first cellphones in the 1980s.

To start with there were radiotelephones for ships, aircraft and military vehicles. Then radiophones for cars and finally personal mobiles.

The theories for cellular mobile telephony were shaped by the 1940s - but getting there would take a further 40 years.
The first true mobiles
All the basic technologies for mobile phones were in place from the late 1940s: wireless, telephony, cellular network design and frequency re-use. All that it required was the software and hardware to make it work.

But it was to prove difficult to come up with something that would work - and something that people would want to use.
Building the networks
All telephones are only as good as the network supporting them - and that's certainly the case when we use a mobile phone.

With cellular networks, design and equipment not only dictates whom we can call - but whether we can call at all. 'No service'are not good news for any mobile user.
Finding new markets
The world got along fine without mobile phones for 100s of years... but that wasn't to say people didn't want one. After all, who knew they wanted a car, computer or dishwasher.

The arrival of the truly individual telephone with its own special number was a revolution - and one that changed people's attitudes to keeping in touch. But for the revolution to take hold, some sweeping changes and innovations were required.
fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...