Martin Cooper Inventor and Father of the Cell Phone

One of the Top 100 Inventors in History

-Time Magazine 2007

Martin (Marty) Cooper, born in 1928, is a pioneer in the wireless industry, an inventor, entrepreneur, executive, and author. His essays and articles have been widely published. He is the author of Cutting the Chord. He believed the cellular phone should be a “an extension of its owner; that a telephone number represented that owner, not a place, not a desk, not a home, but a person.”

Cooper conceived of the portable cellular phone and led the team at Motorola that created the first phone in 1973. He made the first public cell phone call on April 3,1973. He contributed to the technology of the wireless communications industry for over 60 years and contributed to every significant advancement in wireless communications, during this time. His teams introduced the first nationwide car phones and radio pagers, the first digitally trunked land mobile dispatch system, as well as the portable-optimized cellular phone system.  He is known as the “Father of the Handheld Cellular Phone”

During his 29-year tenure with Motorola, Cooper was a division manager and served as Corporate Director of R&D. After leaving Motorola, he started several businesses including Cellular Business Systems which he led to dominate the U.S. cellular billing industry in the 1980s as well as ArrayComm, which became a world leader in smart antenna technology. His wife, Arlene Harris and Cooper co-founded GreatCall, Inc., maker of the Jitterbug phone and service. Since 1986, Cooper has been Chairman and Co-Founder of Dyna LLC, an entrepreneurial incubator. He has served on the boards of directors of several public and private companies.

Cooper formulated the Law of Spectral Capacity, otherwise known as Cooper’s Law. The law states that the capacity of the usable radio frequency spectrum to carry information has doubled every 30 months since radio communications were commercialized by Guglielmo Marconi around 1900.

Cooper has served on several advisory committees of the U.S. Government including the FCC Technological Advisory Council and the Department of Commerce CSMAC. He has been granted eleven patents.

Cooper holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology at which he taught and on whose board of Trustees he serves. 

He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Strathclyde University in Scotland, Hasselt University in Belgium, and Inha University in Korea. 

Martin Cooper was an officer in the U. S. Navy serving on a destroyer supporting the Republic of Korea during the Korean conflict in 1953; his ship received a commendation from President Syngman Rhee. He ultimately served as a submarine officer. 

Cooper lives with his wife, Arlene, in Del Mar, California.  He has 2 children, 4 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.  He’s passionate about staying mobile and healthy, continuing to learn every day, and promotes the effective use of the radio spectrum to serve the positive needs of all humanity.