In 1965 Maxwell Smart made what I believe to be the first wireless call. Although others in that era may have thought shine when considering their shoes, Smart viewed his footwear as a device best suited to delivering an apology.

“Sorry about that, Chief,” the bumbling spy often cried out on shoe-phone calls to his disappointed boss on Get Smart, an American television comedy created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.

The show had an entertaining five-year run and won seven Emmy Awards, yet Smart’s phone feat is often overlooked when the early history of the mobile device is discussed.

The Motorola DynaTAC is frequently called the first commercially available wireless phone—apparently Maxwell Smart received his shoe phone not through a retail store but via his connections as a secret agent.

Known widely as the brick and made famous by Michael Douglas’s Oscar-winning character Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, the DynaTAC weighed 2½ pounds, contained 30 circuit boards, and was 9 inches tall. It cost $3,995 at the time, which is equivalent to $8,724 today, according to Motorola.

It took 10 hours to recharge, and one could talk no more than 30 minutes before the power was gone.

One could understand Gordon Gekko’s need for power. When it comes to mobile devices, the power desire is hardly unique.

Today, billions around the world turn to their cell phones 24 hours a day—as alarm clocks, for daily computing tasks, as pipelines to their friends and family down the block and around ...

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