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The man who made the first cell phone call 50 years ago talks about the milestone

The first cell phone call was made in 1973, and now we walk around with tiny computers in our hands.

cell phone; Motorola; cell phone anniversary; Marty Cooper; YouTube

Fifty years after the first cell phone call, the engineer who made it looks back at the milestone.

It's hard to imagine life without a cell phone. Ever since they became small enough to fit into our pockets and hold all of the world's information on a tiny glowing screen, we've kept them glued to us. Not literally, but they may as well be glued to us since they're usually in our hands or within reach at any given moment. Our whole worlds are on our phones—baby pictures, saved voicemails, new ideas, calendars, maps and even our blood type.

We have more information held on our phones than we might have held in a safe, and yet, the cell phone hasn't been around for a full lifetime yet. In fact, former Motorola engineer Marty Cooper recently sat down with the "Today" show to mark the 50th anniversary of the very first cell phone call.

For the milestone occasion, Cooper took "Today" to the spot where he made the first cell phone call on a nearly unrecognizable mobile device. It's certainly a far stretch from what we would recognize as a cell phone now, but the brick-like device is where it all began.


Cooper tells host Joe Fryer that the old phone weighed 2.5 pounds. Who needed dumbbells back then when you could just make a few phone calls on your way home from work? If you're curious about who was the lucky recipient of the very first muscle-building phone call, it wasn't the obvious answer. Cooper called Motorola's rival at the time, Bell Labs.

"I'm calling you on a cell phone. A real cell phone. A handheld personal, portable cell phone," Cooper said, recalling the words he said to his competition.

It took 10 more years for the phone to hit the market and it came at a hefty retail price, even by today's standards. The brick of a phone was selling for around $4,000, so it wasn't something average folks were buying. You were much more likely to see the luxury item on the big screen than in line at the grocery store. The evolution of the phone is truly fascinating.

Watch Cooper talk about the phone below:

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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TikTokker Brielle Asero, 21, a recent college graduate, went viral on TikTok in October for her emotional reaction to the first day at a 9-to-5 job. The video, which received 3.4 million views, captured the public’s attention because it was like a cultural Rorschach test.

Some who saw the video thought that Asero came off as entitled and exemplified the younger generation’s lack of work ethic. In contrast, others sympathized with the young woman who is just beginning to understand how hard it is to find work-life balance in modern-day America.

“I’m so upset,” she says in the video. "I get on the train at 7:30 a.m., and I don't get home until 6:15 p.m. [at the] earliest. I don't have time to do anything!" Asero said in a video.

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