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Australia's first mobile network celebrates 30th birthday with a quiet night in

Amar Toor, @amartoo
08.10.11
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Why is this phone staring at the ground in dismay? Because it can't believe that it's been 30 years since it made history. On this day three decades ago, this 14 kilogram beast was used to place the very first call on Australia's very first mobile network -- the Public Automatic Telephone System, operated by Telstra (or Telecom, as it was known at the time). Back then, the network could only support 1,000 users at once and provide coverage for the greater Melbourne area (things have since changed for the better). The device, meanwhile, was known simply as The Mobile Phone and, in retrospect, wasn't all that mobile; the carphone system included a 45 centimeter handset, a transceiver and rooftop antenna -- all for a little over $5,000. It could also store a whopping 16 phone numbers and would notify users of incoming calls by sounding the car's horn and flashing its headlights. The Mobile Phone's Australian reign, however, would be relatively short-lived, with the DynaTAC 8000x ushering in a new handheld era, just two years after Telstra's inaugural call. Dial past the break for a Wagnerian commercial that'll tell you everything you always wanted to know about antiquity, but were too afraid to ask.

[Thanks, Vincent]


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