Donald Linder, DynaTAC Primary Designer
Engineering Team Behind First Hand-Held, Portable Telephone Receive 2007 GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering Award
The 2007 GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering Award was presented to the DynaTAC engineering team (1972-1973) in honor of the 35th anniversary of the creation of the first portable, hand-held telephone.

This small team of engineering professionals in Applied Research at the former Communications Division of Motorola, Inc. - whose work in squeezing components designed for bulky, car-mounted mobile radios into a hand-held device ultimately led to the creation of the first cellular telephone prototype - helped shape telecommunications history. This is the first public recognition of their accomplishment.

GlobalSpec Chairman and CEO Jeff Killeen presented the award to DynaTAC Primary Designer Donald Linder. John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA (The Wireless Association) and Tracey Koziol, corporate vice president of Mid and High Tier Devices for Motorola, Inc., recognized the team for their remarkable accomplishment.

About the Honorees
In the fall of 1972, a small band of engineers in Applied Research at the Communications Division of Motorola, Inc. embarked on the creation of the DynaTAC, the first hand-held, mobile telephone.

While the DynaTAC was first demonstrated to the world in April 1973, few knew of the behind-the-scenes engineering that led to this accomplishment. The project called for a three-dimensional model - including the creation of components small enough to fit into the handset - to be designed, assembled, tested and readied for demonstration in fewer than three months.

DynaTAC Primary Designer Donald Linder and his team went to work, squeezing components designed for car-mounted mobile radios into a hand-held portable telephone. The original design called for a tall, thin phone. If the engineers needed more space, they could add to the depth, but the width needed to be less than two inches. Otherwise, a user wouldn't be able to hold it comfortably.

The finished phone measured 1 7/8 inches wide, 3 1/2 inches deep, and 9 inches tall (not including the antenna), and weighed 45 ounces. It could access 380 duplex channels, and the rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery could make 12 three-minute calls and last 12 hours in standby mode.

The legacy of the DynaTAC team continues in 2007, both at Motorola and around the world. Over the past 20 years, mobile telephones have evolved from rare and expensive pieces of equipment to low-cost personal items. The DynaTAC was a true vanguard for today's mobile telephone, transforming the manner in which people communicate.

About the Award
The GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering award is presented annually to a person or group whose singular moment of engineering ingenuity produced a significant turning point for the application of technology and resulting benefits to people, science or industry.

Read about this year's winner:

  • 2008 award winner - General Motors Engineering Team (1973-1975)

  • Read about previous winners:
  • 2007 award winner - DynaTAC Engineering Team from Motorola
  • 2006 award winner - Jason Jr. Engineering Team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • 2005 award winner - NASA's Crew Systems Division (1970)