Fact Check

Did 1963 Newspaper Anticipate Phones That Fit in a Pocket?

The concept of a cellphone existed long before you held one in your hand.

Published May 18, 2021

Image Via Newspapers.com
A newspaper article from 1963 talked about a phone that you'd one day be able to put in your pocket.

In May 2021 an image circulated on social media showing a 1963 newspaper article bearing the headline, "You'll Be Able to Carry Phone In Pocket In Future."

This article was published on April 18, 1963, in the News-Journal, a newspaper out of Mansfield, Ohio. In addition to the photograph above, this article is available via Newspapers.com

The article reads:

"Some day, Mainfielders will carry their telephones in their pockets. Don't expect it to be available tomorrow, though. Frederick Huntsman, telephone company commercial manager, says, "This telephone is far in the future - commercially." Right now, it's a laboratory development and it's workable, allowing the carrier to make and answer calls wherever he may be."

The modern mobile phone wouldn't  hit the commercial market until the 1980s, but the idea of a pocket phone had been percolating for decades. In 1953, for example, the president of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. predicted that someday in the future the phone will be "carried about by the individual, perhaps as we carry a watch today." In 1926, inventor Nikola Tesla predicted that in the future people across the world would be able to communicate instantly with one another with devices that fit inside a vest pocket. 

The idea of video phones (also mentioned in the above-displayed 1963 article) can be traced back much further than you might expect. In 1936, a German engineer developed a video phone service that allowed people to call (and see) each other from Berlin to Leipzig (a distance of approximately 100 miles). 

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.