Kyocera 'Iridium' mobile phone, c 1998.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Commercial mobile telephony began in the late 1940s, although some government departments, the police and emergency services had had acces to mobile radio phone systems since the 1920s. AT&T and Southwestern Bell introduced the first commercial mobile radio-telephone service in the United States in 1946. However, various legal wrangles and technological restrictions meant that mobile phones did not really capture the public imagination until the 1980s when more radio channels (or frequencies) became available.