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Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed HUMANITY

ISBN: 9781948122740
Binding: Hardcover
Author: Martin Cooper
Pages: 242
Trim: 6.25 x 9.25 inches
Published: 01/05/2021

The cell phone as we know it today almost didn't happen—and the story of its creation has never been told. Martin Cooper, credited as the "father of the cell phone", tells the story of how the first cell phone was created. He also outlines the continued positive impact of the cell phone in education, health care, and poverty reduction.

The cell phone changed the world. It revolutionized how people communicate, freed them to get in touch with one another at any time, in any place, without the constraints of the wired network. The cell phone led to the creation and growth of new industries. Yet the true story of its creation has not been told.

This book tells that story. It centers on a battle for control of how people communicate, involving government regulators, lobbyists, police, technology breakthroughs, failures, quartz, and a horse. At the center of that story was Martin Cooper, an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist. The chapters in his life influenced the creation of the cell phone.

Industry skirmishes became a political war in Washington, a struggle to prevent a monopolistic company from dominating telecommunications. The drama culminated in the first-ever public call made on a handheld, portable telephone—a cell phone. Despite that, the cell phone we know today almost didn't happen.

Without the vision of a small group at Motorola, the last 40 years would be different. Their story is inspiring and instructive. After a 29-year career at Motorola, Cooper became an entrepreneur, helping launch companies dedicated to accelerating cell phone adoption.

The story of the cell phone has much to teach about innovation, strategy, and management. This book also relates Cooper's vision of the future of personal communications. That story is far from finished. We have only achieved a small fraction of the cell phone's potential impact.


Martin Cooper is an engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur. He is known as the "father of the cell phone" after he led the team that created the world's first portable cell phone at Motorola - and made the first public call on it. Over three decades at Motorola, Cooper led the development of pagers, two-way radio dispatch systems, quartz crystal manufacture and more.

A serial entrepreneur, he and his wife, Arlene Harris, co-founded many wireless technology companies. These include Cellular Business Systems, SOS Wireless Communications, Great Call, and ArrayComm. Cooper is currently Chairman of Dyna LLC and a member of the FCC's Technology Advisory Council. He was the first to observe the Law of Spectrum Capacity, which became known as Cooper's Law.

In 2013, Cooper became a member of the National Academy of Engineering from whom he received the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering. Cooper was awarded the Marconi Prize for "being a wireless visionary who reshaped the concept of mobile communications." He was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and the Wireless History Foundation's Wireless Hall of Fame. The Radio Club of America awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He is a lifetime member of IEEE, was president of its Vehicular Technology Society, and received its Centennial Medal. In 2007, Time Magazine named him one of the "100 Best Inventors in History."

Cooper grew up in Chicago, the son of Ukrainian immigrants. He attended Crane Technical High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he is a Life Trustee. He served in the US Navy as a submarine officer during the Korean War.


"Cutting the Cord recognizes that innovation has always been about both standing on others' shoulders and collaboration. Throughout tech, we all stand on Marty's shoulders just as he stood on Marconi's." - Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

"If you are looking for a story of daring innovation and its challenges, this is a book for you." - Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

"Marty Cooper is the father of the cell phone and our lives have been changed and the saved because of this unshackling from our cords. How Marty got us there is an important and compelling story." - Gary Shapiro, Chairman Consumer Technology Association & CES

"For three decades, Marty Cooper was at the center of innovation in portable wireless technology at Motorola, where I had the distinct pleasure of working with him. Then he spent another thirty years commercializing wireless technology through a number of entrepreneurial ventures. Marty knows how wireless innovations have developed - and where they're going." - George M. C. Fisher, former CEO, Motorola and Eastman Kodak

"Lessons on how to be innovative, managing innovation, failing at innovation, and inspiring others to be innovative - this book has it all because Marty Cooper has done it all! A treasure trove of insights for anyone who dreams about the future and now to create it." - Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Triggers, Mojo and What Got you Here Won't Get You There

"Cutting the Cord is an amazing book. It provides a person the opportunity to live the experience of creating the world's single most transformative technology. Open the first page and be prepared not to stop reading until you've read it all. I never knew what DynaTAC stood for, Dynamic Total Area Coverage, echoing the fundamental technology of cellular systems. But it's not just history; the book throws down the gauntlet to challenge what will become. And why shouldn't spectrum be used increasingly efficiently? Why shouldn't the FCC mandate constant improvement just as the EPA does for automotive pollution? Why do so many live without needed bandwidth? The best is left for last where, after telling the story of what happened, you're treated to what will become. The ideas are amazing and the potential impacts daunting. The discussion on collaboration is fantastic. It's all eye opening and riveting." - John Edward Major

"There are so many reasons to read this book. First, it is written in story form with well-sourced and confirmed information. Secondly, it is fascinating to understand what goes into an innovation and new technology from the standpoint of the inventor and the team. Marty is modest when it comes to the power of a great team and even pointing out those individuals who did not agree with him. Lastly, I loved the fact that Marty highlights the power of dreaming and failure when it comes to creating anything new. His writing style and infectious optimism for the future of humanity left me wanting more. This is a great book. Thanks, Marty!" - Judy Zimmer

"I teach communication system design at a California college and this book adds to the history of the development of the cell phone. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book by Martin Cooper who is a real entrepreneur in the development of mobile communications." - Don Estreich

"Marty Cooper relates the engaging story of his life, leading up to the development of the cellular telephone, a service that has clearly changed the lives of most of the people on Earth for the better. The vast amount of technology that led up to this life changing development is clearly described. Marty is more than a technologist, as is clear in the second part of the book, where he discusses the many social implications of the cell phone service. Although heavy on technology, the text flows smoothly to make an easy and fascinating read." - Gregory D. Lapin

"I had a chance to participate in a webinar with Martin Cooper. I was inspired to buy and read his book. The greatest invention in history. The cell phone. We've seen nothing yet in his own words as to the capabilities of this device. Bandwidth. Fascinating history. Sad that Motorola lost its way." - Martin P. Wilkins

"Great read for anyone working in the telecoms industry or with innovation in general. It gives a glimpse in the process behind one of the most impactful invention of the 20th century." - Vlad Bratu

"I really enjoyed this book and the authors knowledge and sharing his gifts on paper. Intelligent and insightful!" - Georgena D. Kirby

"Interesting all the way through. I appreciated that it wasn't a mere biography and wasn't only about creating the cell phone. It was also about the relationship between mankind and technology, and where it will take us in the future." - Thomas Moncho