October 13, 1983 was the first day the commercial cell phone call had ever been made, although don’t confuse that with the introduction of the first cell phone 40 years ago. Bob Barnett, president of the defunct telecommunications company Ameritech, had placed a call from Chicago to the Great Grandson of Alexander Graham Bell in Germany. He used a DynaTAC cellular phone.
National Geographic has a short documentary that dives into Ameritech’s vision of a world where people “walk down the street and talk to themselves on a phone.”
Ameritech was at one point under the wing of AT&T, but its technology had been passed up on during the breakup of the Bell System when AT&T believed that cellular technology would never go beyond one million subscribers. AT&T finally reacquired Ameritech in 1999 once it realized how wrong it had been.
The documentary aired during a special miniseries about the 1980’s. Check out the clip above.