Mr. Watson – Can You Hear Me Now?

Wireless service began today at Soldier Field in 1983

Whether you love your cell phone or feel that it's your mobile ball and chain, one fact is undeniable: the cell phone has completely changed the way we communicate and how we live. And it all started 25 years ago today.

On October 13, 1983, Ameritech Mobile president Bobb Barnett made the first commercial cell phone call to the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. The call was made at Soldier Field on a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, a "brick" phone which cost nearly $4,000, was over a foot long, and weighed almost two pounds. It featured an LED display and 30 minutes of talk time.

Twenty customers of the new cell phone service were invited to the event, which was hosted by Jack Brickhouse, then the broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs.

Katie Boudas, the head of Ameritech Mobile public relations at the time, gave the Sun-Times some interesting statistics:

--Free minutes? Yeah, right. Service cost $50 a month plus 40 cents a minute during peak times, 24 cents off-peak.

--In its first year, Ameritech Mobile had 12,000 subscribers. Today, its parent company AT&T Mobility has approximately 72.9 million subscribers.

"Originally, the cell phone was about liberating people from the wires of the telephone call," Jim Wicks, corporate vice president and director of Motorola's consumer experience design team, told the Sun-Times.

Now, it's about drunk dialing, text-message break-ups, and limited-quality photos.

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