Labs was apparently quite shortsighted on the marketability of Dad’s invention. Bell Labs viewed it as important, but a patent of little or no consequence—seeing an application for maybe about 100,000 users worldwide—slightly less than the 4.6 billion current users worldwide!
On regarding this invention of cell phone technology, Dad was most gratified that his invention enabled 9-11 victims to speak with their loved ones until they ultimately perished. Ironically, Dad did not have a “modern cell phone” for his own personal use. Although he kept up with and was continually fascinated by the current design/technological trends, he was content to carry his original cell phone prototype, which was something analogous to a brick. He kept the phone in his car so that he could order pizza on the way home from the office.
Before he passed away in 2008, and in conjunction with his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a front-page article ran in The Newark Star Ledger about his achievements. Dad always loved kids and for many years served as a judge for the New Jersey Science Fair Competition. He also used to go to schools and discuss technology with kids in the local grade schools, but after the article appeared, Dad actually achieved “rock star” status.
Having heard about the article on our father, and being offered the opportunity to be addressed by anyone of importance, local campers resoundingly wanted to meet the inventor of the cell phone. With eager anticipation, they waited for his arrival, and as he was walking down the hallway to the classroom, the whispers grew louder as they announced that he had arrived.
2009: His final recognition, to date, was awarded to him posthumously. He was given the Marconi Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dad was passionate about documenting and sharing his love of and the importance of electronic switching from which other engineers could learn. He published numerous articles on the subject, and in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the invention of the telephone, AT&T commissioned a series of books on the history of Bell Labs. Dad edited the volume on switching.