Mobile data floating through hands

From an $8,150 laptop to disposable smart-phone satellites: A mobile timeline

Fueled by government research, advances in portable computers, untethered phones and wireless communication standards ushered in today’s anytime, anyplace way of doing business.

GRiD Compass 1100, one of the first laptops, launches. At $8,150, the main buyer was the U.S. government.

TheDynaTAC 8000X, the first truly “mobile” radiotelephone, makes the first commercial wireless call (the very first mobile call was placed on a DynaTAC 10 years earlier.)

In January, TCP/IP is selected as the official protocol for the Arpanet and Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) established for reliable transmission over the Internet in conjunction with the Transport Control Protocol (TCP)

SMS for texting is introduced.

Apple introduces the term PDA.

Bluetooth, created by telecom vendor Ericsson as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables, enabling secure personal networks.

A Humvee-mounted comm system delivers asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) to the battlefield.

Palm OS is released.

Marine Corps tests the Microsoft Windows CE 1.0 operating system on what is called “Marine-resistant handheld computers.”

Iridium SSC, Iridium communications service was launched on November 1, 1998 and went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy nine months later. DISA had invested.

Developed at NASA Ames Technology Commercialization Center, PocketMail allows users to connect, via a personal digital assistant, to the PocketMail service for a monthly fee of $9.95. The device simplifies mobile telecommuting, eliminating the need for lugging around cumbersome modems or hefty notebooks when all you want to do is check your e-mail.

Congress designates 911 as the universal emergency number of wireline and wireless service and promotes the use of technologies that help public safety service providers locate wireless 911 callers.

BellSouth announces that it is leaving the pay phone business because there is too much competition from cell phones.

The first RIM BlackBerry is released.

The Defense Department issues a policy restricting use of wireless devices at the Pentagon.

FTS 2001 now includes high-speed wireless access.

Sunnyvale, California becomes the first Wi-Fi enabled city in the United States.

Hurricane Katrina slams into New Orleans on Aug. 29, changing emergency communications and response forever.

Researchers at the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories demonstrate how to use a new wireless signal propagation technique called ultrawideband, or UWB, to convey secure information.

The Senate activates an in-house cellular network that lets government employees place and receive calls from the bowels of the legislative body's various buildings. They can even check their BlackBerry devices.

New Defense wireless policy tightens security.

iPhone launches, spurring dramatic handset innovation.

DISA-compliant smart phone, with Trust Digital's Smartphone Security CAC Pack, hits the street.

Census deploys Windows Mobile for field data collection.

LTE, for Long-Term Evolution, debuts. The new service is capable of transmitting data more than 10 times faster than current third-generation (3G) wireless technologies.

Apple introduces the iPad, another revolution in portable computing.

Verizon releases the first large-scale LTE network in North America, making LTE a candidate to  become the first truly global mobile phone standard.

The Commercial Mobile Alerting System, a national alert system that sends emergency messages to mobile phones, goes live, although it will be a while before many phones are able to receive the alerts.

NASA launches smart-phone based satellites.


About the Author

Connect with the GCN staff on Twitter @GCNtech.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected