Del Mar City Council honors Marty Cooper for 50th anniversary of the first cell phone call

Marty Cooper with the proclamation presented to him at the Del Mar City Council meeting May 15.
(Lynn Gaylord)

Del Mar resident Marty Cooper received a proclamation from the Del Mar City Council for the 50th anniversary of the date he made the world’s first cell phone call in New York City.

“My instructions were to come up, say thank you and sit down,” Cooper said. “I’m not going to do that.”

He credited his team at Motorola for all the work that went into that first cell phone call.

“If these engineers that I worked with, who are marvelous, didn’t work day and night for three months to create this phone, nothing would have happened,” Cooper said.

In his book, “Cutting the Cord,” Cooper wrote about the obstacles he and his team at Motorola had to overcome before placing that first call on April 3, 1973. Since then, the cell phone has evolved into a type of personal computer that nobody predicted at the time.

The numerous honors Cooper has won over the years include the Marconi Prize “for being a wireless visionary who reshaped the concept of mobile communication.” He was also inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and Wireless History Foundation’s Wireless Hall of Fame, and Time magazine named him one of the “100 Best Inventors in History” in 2007.

Cooper, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, grew up in Chicago and served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer in Korea.