AT&T Labs developed car phones in the 1940s and continued
to seek improvements. But until recently mobile telephones were rare, limited
by a lack of available communications channels. The big breakthrough came when
AT&T Labs divided wireless communications into a series of cells, then
automatically switched callers as they moved so that each cell could be
reused. This led to the development of cellular phones and made today's mobile
For their pioneering work in cellular telephony, AT&T Labs researchers Richard Frenkiel and Joel Engles earned the National Medal of Technology. Cellular telephony has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry and has freed tens of millions of people, both at home and at work, to communicate anywhere, any time.