AH TechTalk: How Well Do You Know Motorola?

As a business, Motorola has been around since 1928 although it has not always been called Motorola. The original name was the Galin Manufacturing Corporation, but after the businesses' involvement with the automobile industry, it was renamed "Motor"-"ola," for "motor" as in automobile and because ending a name in "ola" was popular in the 1930s. The business has endured through challenging conditions, although in recent years it has caught the headlines originally because Google bought Motorola, then sold the business on to Lenovo. In the Android world, Motorola have not necessarily followed the crowd but have instead chosen their own path. Let's take a look at Motorola through the years, starting with the car radio in 1930. The first in-car radios were originally designed for American police cars. The product proved a success and quickly evolved into a two-way communication device.

Skip forward to 1940 and the world was embroiled in World War 2. Motorola designed the first portable two-way radio walky-talky. The SCR-300 is the backpack that we see soldiers carrying in the second World War; yes it's big, heavy but makes a significant difference to the battlefield. As the years have gone by, the technology has been refined, improved and shrunk and walky-talky devices are now considerably smaller. Almost a spin-off, but still having considerable impact on the world, is the introduction of the Handie-Talkie radio pager in 1956. This wireless pager device had a range of around twenty-five miles and was mostly adopted by hospitals in order to send important messages to doctors and medical staff. Again, the radio pager was evolved during the years although the adoption of the cell 'phone has reduced the market for the radio pager. Motorola were also the first company to broadcast on and from the moon: when Neil Armstrong made his famous speech on the 21 July 1969 as he stepped onto the moon, his broadcast was made over Motorola radio equipment.

Oh; the cell 'phone. That's another Motorola invention. There is a famous story here whereby a Motorola engineer, working on the cellular telephone, made the first call to his rival at AT&T back in 1973. The first commercial cell 'phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x and was launched in 1983. Later on, Motorola would manufacture one of the world's most famous cell 'phones: the StarTAC, which was both the lightest handset at the time (at 88 grams) and the first clamshell. Writing of clamshell designs, the Motorola RAZR was one of the world's most popular handsets. It was a solid, well made, quad-band handset that sold in huge numbers all over the world. The name was later recycled for a number of successful Android devices.

Motorola also produced the first 'phone that incorporated mobile browsing plus email and alphanumeric characters in 1999: the Motorola iDEN i1000 Plus. This device, also a clamshell, was able to make and receive calls, send messages and faxes, and act as a radio. It contained a 900 mAh battery and gave customers a three-hour talk time and 45 hours of standby. Other notable features included a speakerphone and vibration notification. At the time of writing, Motorola's mobile division is owned by Lenovo, who are making changes to the product lineup. Google bought Motorola essentially for its patent portfolio and most of these have been used for the benefit of Android everywhere. Some surplus patents have now been sold on along with of course the mobile business. Lenovo originally bought Motorola for the premium branding and to help the business gain a stronger foothold into Western markets.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.