RW: The husband and wife team of Arlene Harris and Martin Cooper have defined the wireless age. Arlene, as a child of five, worked in her parents' radio mobile telephone company, MetroCal , later ICS, in Los Angeles . She has been a Wireless Entrepreneur for thirty-five years and is the founder and CEO of GreatCall, who launched the Jitterbug, easy to use cell phone, with partner Samsung in 2006. Martin Cooper is a pioneer and inventor in the wireless communications industry. He introduced the first portable cell phone in 1973 during his twenty-nine year career with Motorola. He is a co-founder of GreatCall and is Chairman of ArrayComm, today, a leader in cellular antenna development. In this 2007 interview, the pair describes the contribution of semiconductors to wireless communications and deployment and how the microprocessor contributed to the complexity of the ubiquitous, “do everything cellular phone” and mobile devices.
MC: Actually, Arlene and I have been in the business about the same time, the only difference is, is she started when she was twelve years old and I started when I was twenty-six.
RW: It was totally child labor.
MC: Yeah, exactly.
RW: It's not quite as if you do it for family, I think.
AH: A buck an hour. That was good money then.
RW: That was? Well, Marty, how did you get into engineering?
MC: Well, I've known that I was going to be an engineer, you know, since I was - since I had a memory. Even when I was three or four years old, I was constantly trying to figure out how things worked. So, there was never any doubt in my mind about what I was going to do when I grew up other than when I finally did get to engineering school, I went to Illinois Institute of Technology, and I - and I decided, well, I think I'll be a physicist. And I almost became one until I discovered that you had to take chemistry and - and when I took chemistry lab, I was a total disaster. I'd been cultivating the ability, that since I was a child, to not know how to cook and have no interest in it and it turns out chemistry lab was cooking. So I changed from a physicist to an engineer, but I've always known I was going to be an engineer.
RW: Well, what was your family like, your parents?
MC: Well, they were - my parents were immigrants. They came from Russia . They had a culture of the importance of education and reading and for that I am everlastingly grateful and my mother had enormous energy - always had and I took after that. My dad was a very thoughtful guy and whatever I am, I credit really good genes, and good culture.
RW: That's great. So you got a degree in what, electrical engineering or?
MC: Yeah, and I have, it's electrical engineering with a math minor and I have a master's degree which essentially the same thing from the same school, which I got after I got out of the navy. I was in the navy for some, three and a half years.
RW: What did you do in the navy?
MC: I served on destroyers during the Korean conflict and I ended up being a submarine officer.
RW: A submarine officer?
MC: Yep, I was in the - actually in the last class of submarines before the atomic submarines, so, uh, Trigger class submarine. I was on the USS Tang, sc - wonderful part of my life. I almost stayed in there in the navy, but fortunately, didn't.
RW: So, then was Motorola your first job out of the navy?
MC: Well, actually I spent one year, working for the Bell System and have been battling the Bell System culture ever since, but I worked for a company that doesn't exist anymore but one which I'm sure you're familiar with, Rob, the Teletype Corporation - you remember what a teletype machine is, they don't exist anymore.
RW: Absolutely, I used to use their products.
MC: Yeah, I'll - I'll bet you did. Well after the first three months of my experience at Teletype, I actually took model 28 teletype machines apart and put them back together again, always had parts left over and they always worked anyway. So I guess must have had a talent for that. But yeah, but somehow the Bell System approach did not appeal to me and I ended up getting an offer from Motorola and spent twenty-nine years at Motorola.
RW: Wh - what didn't appeal to you at Bell ?
MC: Structure, I mean, I sat in a room with maybe a hundred, hundred and fifty engineers. You came to work at nine o'clock in the morning, at five o'clock in the evening a bell rang and everybody stood up and walked out. And you followed these procedures and they had a very orderly progression, I remember seeing a new superintendent came in and because he was one level lower than the guy who had occupied this office before, they took the carpeting out because, hated just, you know, it's very highly structured and, you know, Motorola was exactly the opposite. When at five o'clock in Motorola, at ten to five , somebody would always bring up some technical discussion or some problem and you'd leave when you finished talking, you know, it might be nine o'clock at night and so totally, different entrepreneurial kind of environment and that suited me much better.
RW: And was this down in Scottsdale or?
MC: Oh, no, this was in Chicago . It - Scottsdale didn't happen. This was really going back 1954 and Scottsdale , you would know better than I, Rob, because you're the historian but Scottsdale didn't happen 'til some years after that.
RW: Well, we have that. Well, so, you weren't in semiconductors at that time.
MC: No my first association with semiconductors was also, I hate to keep talking about how I'm older than you are, but Motorola did in fact have a semiconductor division at that time and their first, you might call it commercial. They were really laboratory devices were transistors called the XN2, that gives you a little hint. And they shipped the XN2's to us in barrels with the transistors just piled in with the leads all twisted together. And you would reach into this barrel and pick out transistors and measure them 'til you found the characteristics you wanted. And in my case it was beta and it turns out the application that I had, I actually shipped the first semiconductors that were ever shipped in a commercial product by Motorola. And I used these XN2 transistors, which were really not very good as emitter followers and to isolate a delay line. So, and a beta of anything higher than two or three was rare and it was lucky, because I couldn't find many that had betas higher than that. So I've been peripherally involved in semiconductors since the very beginning of my career.
RW: So how did the cell phone saga start?
MC: The cellular telephony was invented by Bell Laboratories, by AT&T. The initial concept started as early as 1947, they actually have some patents that occurred in the early fifties. But it lay fallow until the late sixties and the FCC was looking for some way to stimulate wireless in this country. At that time, the only car telephones were- there were only perhaps thirty channels. A channel covered a city so that in any city, no matter how big it was, you could only hold thirty simultaneous conversations over the whole area. So, that the whole New York area, the whole Chicago area, just thirty conversations, so you could imagine. And of course, the - there was a huge demand which the telephone company couldn't resist, so they would have perhaps a thousand subscribers and so you could imagine what the probability was of getting a channel when you wanted to talk, something like ten percent during the busy hour. And these were very rudimentary radio that they - at the beginning, push to talk so they were looking something to replace that. In, '62, Motorola and Bell Laboratories came out with a thing called IMTS. It wasn't much better, you know, all it did was mechanize the ability to not get a channel when you wanted one. In the late sixties, this proposal came out at the request of the FCC; AT&T made a proposal. We have a new technology, they said, we call that cellular and with this technology, which we are the only company in the world who have the technical capability and the only company in the world that have the financial resources. If we get this spectrum and all we need is thirty megahertz, give us thirty megahertz of spectrum, and we will in that spectrum provide air to ground services, public switch telephone service, what we call cellular today and private land mobile, but we will do that as a monopoly. And here we were at Motorola, we couldn't talk about it at that - that time what - we had an eighty-four percent share of market of the land mobile business and the thought of somebody - a monopoly coming in and just taking over the whole world, was just abhorrent, it was abhorrent even in principle, never mind the fact that we would be essentially put out of business. But then the really horrible thing about the AT&T proposal is that their vision of cellular telephony was car telephones. And - and that was really abhorrent to us because we had already learned in the land mobile business that people are mobile, they're fundamentally mobile, they keep moving around, they don't want to be chained to the walls, they don't want to be stuck in their car, they don't want to be stuck at home, they like to move around. So, we have to prove to the world a couple of things, number one that a little company like Motorola had the capability of creating such a technology and that it really could be done, that it was practical. So we literally shut our company down for some three or four months and to demonstrate that we could build this kind of technology and I suggested, why don't we build a real portable cellular telephone and that is just what we did. And in April of 1973, we demonstrated that phone and - and this is an exact duplicate. This phone weighs forty ounces, two and a half pounds. It turns out the weight was very useful because the battery only lasted twenty minutes, which is just about how long a strong person can hold a phone up to their ear. You know, and we did demonstrate the thing in April and later that year the FCC, they provided results to all of the efforts by AT&T, by Motorola, and it turns out the business - number one was competitive. It was not a monopoly and somehow or other the rules ended up being a compromise so that portables were in fact possible.
RW: Well, now, did AT&T ever enter the mobile market? Did they ever make handsets?
MC: Well, interestingly enough, very appropriate question, Rob, although all your questions are. It took us ten years, from 1973, when the FCC made the decision to go ahead to provide thirty megahertz of spectrum before we actually had commercial service. The year the commercial service started was also the year that AT&T was disbanded, so.
RW: Oh, when it got broken up.
MC: So, it was broken up, they in fact did a trial in - starting in - around 1979 for a few years, but when commercial service started, there was no AT&T left anymore. They were operating companies and Illinois Bell, uh, actually started the first telephone company cellular system and a common carrier in Washington, American Radio Telephone company started - it did the first non-telephone cellular system.
RW: Well, now in the first commercial handset, did you use transistors?
MC: Of course. I knew you were going to ask that question because if you think about this, all this phone does is talk and listen. And we're going to show you another modern version that in a minute, but it might store a couple of numbers but has no other features, certainly no camera, no ability to play music and yet the actual weight of the silicon is not insignificant here, but they were all transistors. This is before there were any significant integrated circuits, you had - did have circuits, uh, as you're well away in 1973, with a few devices. Am I right about the timing?
RW: Hmm umm.
MC: But this thing is just loaded with these transistors, small integrated circuits. Coils, remember what a coil looked like - and capacitors, we don't use those anymore. So, actually in order to demonstrate this, we had to ship the telephone and me, because I did all these demonstrations and an engineer to keep it working because there were thousands and thousands of parts. By the time we actually shipped commercial product in 1983 and we had gone through four additional generations, each one getting smaller, each one getting more integrated. And the real value that Motorola brought to that situation was that we had a semiconductor division; we had management with vision who kept the semiconductor people and the communications people working really closely together. So we in communications were pushing the semiconductors guys more on a chip with low drain, that was our issue. And - and so they would go into silicon gate CMOS and all kinds of stuff. They really didn't have a lot of application in the rest of the world at that time, and by the time we actually shipped that product in 1983, we did have a commercially buildable product. Not many people bought them because they cost four thousand dollars in 1983 dollars. You know, but they did work and five years later, half the cellular phones were portable and of course today you can't even buy a car telephone. Whereas this unit has many thousands of devices, a modern cell phone has perhaps a hundred, a hundred and ten parts of so, but maybe only three or four semiconductors - and they're even getting better. It's is probably possible today to build a complete cellular telephone with all these features, cameras, MP3 players, internet access and telephone all - all in a single chip.
RW: Now, when did microprocessors - or when were they put into cell phones?
MC: Well, you know, I have to really stretch my memory, but we were - remember now, that the - the biggest architectural change in a cell phone was previously - there were only thirty channels. The first mobile telephones that we built had perhaps twelve channels and a separate crystal for each that would lock on to each channel. Now, all of a sudden we had 611 channels. Well, there's no way you could put that many crystals into a unit. So we needed a thing called a synthesizer. And synthesizers are very complex but guess what, they end up being a processor. So, my recollection is somewhere in the mid seventies, our semiconductor division started to put out the first - what we would call today elementary processors. At that time, they looked very complex to us. And as soon as they could build a silicon gate CMOS processor, we built a radio that would accommodate it.
RW: So that was a start.
AH: One of the things that Marty didn't mention that I've heard him tell others is that, he mentioned that it - they shut the company down and spent four months building a portable but apparently for years before that, they were working on integrating and a lots of the labs were working on things that would make communications or miniaturize the portable experience. And our company was in the paging business and we certainly saw that starting in 1972, where we received little tiny receivers, now all they did was beep, but I think those technologies were all being worked on at the same time. And we were benefiting in a rudimentary way with paging while they were working on this really elaborate cell phone but there were years of work going on ahead of that in all the labs around Motorola.
MC: That's right. People talk a lot about the fact that we built this thing in three months and, you know, you can't really do very much in three months. The real issue was the vision. And we had had a vision for many years before that personal communications was going to be a huge, huge marketplace. At the mom - at the time we were working on things like putting a portable telephone or portable handset on every policeman, but we knew in our minds that someday everybody would have a - a personal communicator. And so I'd wander around the laboratories and get something to build me a miniature nine hundred megahertz antenna, well nobody thought that nine hundred megahertz would ever do anything. Synthesizers, why would we build a synthesizer when nobody had that many channels? Well, you knew that had to happen someday and we had people just constantly fighting the battle of low current drain, squeezing more and more stuff into smaller spaces. So, as Arlene stated, the actual groundwork had gone on for years and years before we actually put together what was a working cellular phone.
RW: Well, somewhere in this timeframe you guys developed a romantic relationship. Is that right?
AH: That was much later.
MC: Well, it was.
AH: It was a years later. We didn't meet each other until the trials were starting in Chicago and Washington, Baltimore. And Marty was out evangelizing to the radio common carrier industry about what was coming and the issues that were facing us, the AT&T, we'll call it conspiracy, but their effort to take over the radio business or at least that was their plan to get all the spectrum and then we would work for them in a sense. And that that was much later, that was seventy-eight or seventy-nine when we met, still before commercial service. But -
MC: I don't want to romanticize your question but Arlene and I were making history together before we ever met because we at Motorola were building the first citywide radio pagers and in fact, we had a vision then. AT&T was going to do the same thing. And they were building, as an example, a terminal, the thing that addresses all these pagers, a central station that could accommodate three thousand pagers in a city. And we had a very different version, a vision, and we built a terminal that had the capability of a million pagers. Now who the hell would you sell a terminal like that? Well, we found another crazy guy in Los Angeles named Homer Harris, that name sounds familiar to you. And Homer and his family, including Arlene ended up being the customer for that terminal and they built a system in Los Angeles and not only did they use up the capacity of this hundred thousand pager terminal, they exceeded the capacity - they had to modify the terminal so they could increase over a hundred thousand pagers. So it takes, not only the vision of us engineers working at the plant, but the vision of the entrepreneurs that go and bring this service to the people.
RW: Well, so she was, in a sense, your first major customer at least for pagers.
MC: That - that is exactly right. The way Arlene and I met; I thought was kind of romantic. Should I tell Rob how we met? Or should we forget about it?
AH: I guess it's going to be on the internet. Well, lovely.
MC: Well, this was just a casual meeting, you understand, but I had been invited to speak to a common carrier group in.
AH: Carmel .
MC: Carmel , at the Quail Lodge in Carmel in 1979, January.
MC: Twenty - twenty-six.
AC: Something like that.
MC: Nineteen seven - you notice how carefully I say this, you know, you - there's certain dates you don't forget or you get in deep, deep, deep trouble. And I had to speak on a Saturday, which I thought at that time was a great imposition, so I, being an officer of the company, I used my privilege and took the corporate jet. And I flew to Monterey and I was met by the Motorola people and they brought me into this bar and there was the whole Harris family. These three, six foot plus - mountainous guys and Ma Harris , Deloris and - and Homer and Arlene. And Arlene and I somehow clicked and we've been communicating more or less ever since.
RW: Well, it doesn't hurt if you fly in your own private jet.
MC: Well, I forgot - I forgot to mention that because we were trying to impress each other and she was impressing me with this fancy new Cadillac El Dorado that she was driving and of course, I had to take her out to my Lear jet and show her how I flew in so we were competing with each other about who could impress the other more. By the way, I think she won. She wasn't all that impressed with the airplane.
AH: He just wanted to drive my car, that's all.
RW: That is hilarious.
AH: Now I drive a bug.
RW: Well, at some point in time, because there was computing power in the phone, somebody said, let's do other things other than just a phone. And some would say that was good, others would say maybe not so good. So, Arlene, what's your take on that?
AH: Oh, I absolutely think it's good. I think that integration - smart integration and - and the opportunity to bring functionality to people to carry around, cameras and messaging and perhaps entertainment, although my eyes aren't that good. I think all of that is good. I just think that while the business and technologies are moving forward, you have to remember that there are people that aren't going to appreciate that progression and that's why we've done what we've done. We've kind of gone retro and said let's make a good phone and then from there, maybe we'll take a different tack. But I think that digital - when the networks started going to digital technology and it was clear that the device and integration in the handsets and on the circuit boards were getting smaller and you could pack more in, the circuits were getting smaller, the speakers and devices that go there were getting smaller and smaller, that there was an interest because the mantra in the industry had - and you know this certainly far better than I do, that it's a make it faster, less current drain, lighter, you know, all of those things, cheaper.
AH: Whatever, cheaper with us is really important, that all those things were happening and there's really - certainly by the engineering mentality in most of the labs around the world and I've been in a lot of them, is to, you know, innovate, try to do things differently, try to bring, you know, pack more in and that's a good thing. But again, going back to my first comment, if you don't do it in an intelligent way, then it's not only unavailable to people that love our phone but it's also really unavailable to younger people that would like to use those features but it's daunting to get to them. So, the user interfaces and the things that we use to make that technology work for us in my view, that needs to be the next major effort on the part of technologists so that they can make it more useful to - to the rest of us,
RW: Yeah, why should you have to have a manual to operate your washing machine?
MC: You could not be more right, Rob. Good technology is invisible. Good technology isn't transparent. You drive cars in most cities in the world and I never pick up a manual when I get in the car and yet when I shift that transmission, I'm operating one of the most complex machines made in civilization, got hydraulics, electronics, electrical, mechanical, really complicated and you don't even think about it, that's how things ought to work. That's how a cellular phone ought to work.
RW: I understand that Best Buy and Costco having return rates on electronics on the.
AH: Very high.
RW: Order of twenty-five percent.
AH: Very high.
RW: - simply because -
RW: - the people – they work fine, except the customer couldn't figure out how to - how to make them work.
AH: Yeah. Well, and you know, there's this whole adage of use it or lose it and you know when you start to sit down at a computer and work on a program that you're just learning, if you don't use it again, you have to go back and relearn it. You certainly shouldn't have to figure out how to make a phone call every time you go to make a phone call or get into the phone book in the phone. And so, you know, it - something as basic as a wakeup call - a wakeup alarm clock in a hotel room and I can tell you in the last year, Marty and I have been in three different hotel rooms where we couldn't figure out how to set the alarm. To me a clock, buttons on it that say alarm one and two and impossible. I mean, certainly you didn't want to be up all night trying to figure out how to set the alarm, so you'd end up calling the desk to get a wakeup call. Well, something's wrong with that. If this is a clock and a CD player and an internet device and maybe even a hotspot or all the other stuff they're packing into one device that, in the first place needs to be an alarm clock, it's pretty sad when you can't figure out how to set the alarm.
RW: Well, both Susan and I have cars that have a satellite radio and that slave to the clock so that the clock is in the car is accurate to a microsecond. Now, unfortunately, they don't take into account daylight savings time, so it's accurate to a microsecond.
MC: But it could be an hour off.
RW: - plus or minus an hour.
MC: I love it.
RW: And right now, one of the cars, that what it - it's an hour off because we had to reboot it and you reboot it by loosening the battery.
RW: And that's - that's how you reboot the computers and then you lose all your data and along the way time. So.
AH: So and the dealer, they may have set a correction, that correction's no longer available, it's been erased.
RW: Well, Mercedes sent out a dealer bullet when daylight savings time started, they sent out a service bulletin.
MC: Because of that's not daylight savings, congress messed up the system along with a lot of other things.
RW: So the complexity - I really don't need my clock in the car to be accurate to a microsecond but I do need it to be accurate to an hour. Any rate, going on with Marty here, so you left Motorola and you went out, what, on your own?
MC: Well, no, actually, yes, Arlene and I and another partner formed a company because - and this was right at the beginning of commercial cellular. You know, the equipment had all been designed, people had worked really hard to get spectrum, they were starting to manufacture the stuff, they were starting to market. Nobody thought about how they were going to run these systems and more importantly, how are they ever going to collect money from anybody. So, we formed a company called Cellular Business Systems, Inc. and that - built all of the management systems that it took to run a cellular system. We - our objective was - remember there were wireline carriers, non-wireline carriers. We figured if we could get half of the non-wireline carriers, because the Bell system was going to do whatever they wanted to, we would have the a successful business. And we ended up getting seventy percent of the entire market, so much so that we were entrepreneurs, we had people funding our company and they couldn't understand why, since we had exceeded our plan by two and a half times, why we needed more money. So, we ended up ultimately, as successful as we were, selling our company to - actually, one of the small Bell operating companies, Cincinnati Bell. But that was our - the - next venture and it's been going on ever since. We are now in our fourth or fifth.
RW: You're serial entrepreneurs. Well, once you get started on that it's hard to stop, you know. You really can't go back to that big company with all the rules and silly meetings and things like that. You just won't take it, unless you're, you know, penniless.
AH: I worked for Continental Airlines back when they were a scrappy proud bird with the golden tail and we - so, I've never worked for what I would call or what you call today a big company. So I'm - I only see that - I - from the outside in, but I do know it's very difficult to be a vender to a big company like that.
RW: Well, if you - if you'd never known anything else, maybe it's okay. But, once you're out there making your own decisions, um, win or lose.
MC: I think it's a chemistry thing. Some people enjoy structure and you cannot run a big company without bureaucracy, without some kind of structure and some of us are just fundamentally unstructured. I have no idea why Motorola tolerated me for twenty-nine years, because I really never quite fit into this. I was - in general, doing my own thing and causing other people all kinds of trouble and aggravation, but they - somehow they - I'm sure they would not tolerate me in today's environment.
RW: Well, so that your simplified phone, do you have one with you there?
AH: I do, I do. Would you like to see it?
AH: I'm going to have to get up.
RW: Back to the future. So it looks like a conventional cell phone.
AH: Yeah, it's a little chunky but it's very comfortable. It booted up, that was the boot up. Um, it's really remarkably comfortable. All the edges are rounded, the distance between this - the speaker and the microphone are exact - you know, allow you to put it up to your ear and know exactly where it should be. It's comfortable against your ear. This pad that's around here helps keep the ambient noise out. We've got a - an on/off switch that's says on/off. They don't have to guess.
MC: It's a new concept.
AH: Yeah. dial tone tells you that there's signal, so if put it up to your ear and there's dial tone, that says you could probably make a call here. We've got yes/no keys and there's a bar here that asks a question, you answer it yes or no, it's very simple. So there's services that are provided by a visual screen on the phone, but for the most part this is just, you know, dial it. I don't know if you can see it from there, but you can see how large the numbers are. You can just dial a number on this phone or you can drop into the the features and you'll only see the features that you want on this phone. You don't see voice mail if you don't have voice mail. You won't see call history if you don't have call history activated. So, it's very much the strategy that we've taken in developing this phone is - we want our customers to be able to pick out what they want. We want to be able to make the phone do that and we want to provide them with a web based service that allows them and their families to be able to modify and as we add a feature, they can turn it on; they can try it out and the like. So it's a different concept than selling you a phone and a manual with a deck, they call, onboard, a deck of software that's onboard or applications, on the one hand, and turning you on a network element and you're on your own. That's our motto.
MC: Every - every phone gets customized to the person who's going to use it before they get it and they can continue to customize it in very simple ways, going on the internet or their children go on the internet. And Arlene left out the most important thing.
RW: Big buttons.
MC: Every button has whatever function it says and nothing else, no sub menus and sub-sub menus. And in fact, if you want to know your own telephone number and on my cell phone you have to go through three or four button pushes, zero button pushes because the phone number's printed right on the front of the phone.
AH: When we ship it, yeah, thank you dear.
RW: What a new idea, to actually have the phone number there.
AH: You know, and it's really interesting because people I was just mentioning to Marty, we were coming up here at that somehow all of a sudden, you become the expert in usability and so on and I have to say that the primary motivator - mover of what we've done here is common sense. It's, you know, what could your mom figure out how to use. There wasn't a lot of very intense research. Now, we did have a previous business where we learned a lot about what customers liked and didn't like, older customers, liked and didn't like about cellular. But my team and the people that are working at GreatCall battled out what needed to be on that phone. It's keeping features off and deciding what went on and what stayed off and how to present things, but it's a lot of common sense.
MC: Did you ever meet a genius inventor that didn't use common sense? Because Arlene put into that phone really as genius.
RW: Well, what I think of is TiVo. And the TiVo is also very easy to use and easier than a VCR. On the VCR you could never figure out, you know, the flashing eights and - I mean, this one.
AH: Flashing eights.
RW: Yeah. Anyhow
AH: The flashing eights were the inspiration for this phone.
RW: Oh, in what way?
AH: Well, for years you heard engineers say you - or heard people say, you know, I can't figure out how to run my VCR, all I see are flashing eights. And there were jokes about it, there were cartoons about it, there were people complaining all the time that they couldn't figure out how to use their VCR. And then cell phones started getting more and more and more complicated. And I thought to myself, all those consumer electronics companies that were building those VCR's, never listened to those jokes.
RW: No, they never simplified it.
AH: And now we're starting to see jokes about the cell phone. Somebody's got to figure this out and make a phone that's a phone. So, that analogy is one - was one of the inspirations for this phone.
RW: Well, you had to negotiate with to build it now?
RW: Yeah, so, how did that go? This giant Japanese company or -
MC: Well, Samsung is a Korean company.
RW: Korean, yeah, sure.
MC: It turns out - a very appropriate question because the bureaucrats that we talked about would never consider something like this. The immediate market for a phone like that is not huge when you talk about two and a half billion cell phones on the marketplace today. But, I had a friend at Samsung who happen to be the president of the Telecommunications Division and here was a guy with vision. And we brought him a model that Arlene actually created. And we did this on our own nickel, that had many of the features that you saw on the JitterBug phone and we showed it to this guy and he looked at it and not only did he agree to build it but he start became the project engineer on the job, if you could imagine. This is the president of the company and he and Arlene together created what is JitterBug, and a perfect example of what it really takes is common sense and vision.
RW: Ah. One wouldn't expect that, would you from a giant company?
AH: No, no, he believed in the market and still does, believes in the market, believes there's a need, wanted Samsung to be the ones that were leading the way to fill it. They're learning with us about this market and also we've gotten such great press on our usability that I think it's going to give guidance to a lot of the other companies that they should be reconsidering some of their product line for other people, I mean, for people that are just not tech savvy.
RW: Right. Well, they are. Susan is having a big meeting tonight that is just about ease of use.
RW: And so, when you start getting twenty-five percent returns on perfectly good electronics.
AH: Hmm umm.
MC: That's incredible number.
RW: Even Costco, you know, the ultimate big box company, they have something they call concierge service and they have extended - let's see, you can return it within ninety days.
RW: Instead of the usual, I think, thirty, this is electronics, watches and things like that. And, if you have questions, you can dial up and they have a free service that is free if you're bought from them.
AH: Hmm umm.
RW: And they will help explain how to use it and they will have people actually come to your home and set up your HDTV.
MC: For historical purposes we ought to mention the name of the visionary at Samsung.
MC: Because he really made - his name is Ki Tae Lee , K T Lee , who is now Vice Chairman of Samsung. He's Vice Chairman and Chief Technical Officer, and really a neat guy.
RW: Samsung is now what, number two in?
MC: Well they're fighting with Motorola. Motorola's back in the number two position but Samsung's nipping at their heels.
RW: Huge company.
MC: Very - it's a huge company and very, very aggressive.
RW: Very successful.
AH: Hmm umm.
RW: Come from nothing.
AH: Their engineering group has been fantastic. And their local sales organization that we work with, they're very supportive. So we're very fortunate. It's really a - you know, people have asked me to come and tell them how you get a big company to do something for a niche market. And I said, well I don't know that we can replicate this experience because it is unique. And we're blessed to have - it was serendipitous, so we were blessed to have their support.
MC: Can I preempt your next question?
RW: I - I've actually run out of questions.
MC: Good, I have something to add that I think is appropriate to your subject and it has to do with what you talked about before about - you asked Arlene about what her feelings were about putting all these things into one phone and of course I agree with Arlene's viewpoints by definition. But I do have a slightly different viewpoint about that. Really, most people who have cell phones today use it for one purpose, talking and listening. I'll bet you that's almost all that you do with your cell phone. Is that accurate?
RW: Yeah, well, I'm seventy-two, so.
MC: What's that got to do with anything? It turns out that most people still talk and listen. Yeah, a lot of people text but that's - texting is still, maybe ten percent of the business. And yet, the big focuses have been how much more stuff we can put in. So, for fifteen years, my colleagues and I at ArrayComm have been working on technology that would improve the quality of the transmission path. Because if you think about it, cell phones are just starting - this is after how long now, it's twenty-four years, just starting to get as reliable as the wireline, haven't quite made it yet but they're getting there. And they still have a ways to go cost wise. It's still cheaper to have a wireline phone. Well, turns out that there is technology that could do that and - and what ArrayComm does is what's called spatialed technology, reuse of the radio spectrum and - which essentially allows many, many more people can talk on every radio channel and the coverage of a city with fewer cell sites that are used today, get the cost down, make communications more robust. And what's the essence of this new technology? It is, in fact, processing. We call it multi-antenna signal processing and what you see when you see equipment that's implemented the way we describe, is an array of antennas on a tower instead of a single antenna. They'll be two antennas and a handset instead of just one, so you may not see it but the antennas are just hardware. What makes this work is signal processing but in a bay station like the ones that you see around the city, the processing that's required to make this what we call mass multi-antenna signal processing work is essentially what ten years ago was the super computer. And is now a couple of chips, that TI and Motorola make, that sells for a hundred and ten dollars. And I really mean it, that a Cray computer of ten years ago had less capability than you can put on a couple of DSP's today. So, what the semiconductor industry is doing today is hand-in-glove what wireless is doing. The more powerful the processors get, the more we in the wireless business can do to make communications lower in cost, more robust, higher data rates. So, if that isn't appropriate to your historical comment, I can't think of anything.
RW: It is and of - and of course that has been the record for the last thirty years, better, faster, cheaper, higher integration, Moore's Law says that your - your - the amount of stuff that you can pack on a chip increases.
MC: It doubles every eighteen months.
RW: Eighteen months, it - it pretty much doubles and he, by the way, Gordon observed that and he didn't call it a law or anything, it was an observation and at that time, sixty-four was the number of things you could put on a chip, sixty-four components.
MC: Devices, yeah.
AH: Hmm umm, hmm umm.
RW: On one chip, it wasn't 64K. It was sixty-four and putting that on semi-log paper, he was getting a straight line and then just project the line out and he - you know, you get to billions and - and that's actually true now.
MC: Well, I have made an observation and it - and it's a result of Gordon Moore's stuff and that is that our ability to squeeze stuff through the spectrum has doubled - how old is the integrated circuit now?
MC: About, yeah.
RW: It was.
MC: Fifty-eight this - so we're talking about fifty years? Well for a hundred and twenty years, we've been using radio spectrum, since Marconi did his stuff. And we have doubled our ability to squeeze stuff through the spectrum every two and a half years for the last hundred - hundred and ten years. And what's significant about both of these observations, Gordon Moore's and the one that I just made, is that they're going to keep going. But that - that logarithmic line, the straight line on log - log paper is going to keep going for devices on a chip and it's going to keep going for what we call spectral efficiency, which is how low in cost you can get data rates and things of that nature.
AH: But the issue there is that the marketing departments are being driven by what can go into - what can be done and not what should be done. And it needs to be flipped around.
AH: They - this whole issue of cramming this stuff in is fine for technology but it may not be fine for us.
AH: And so, the ideal circumstance is, is that as these devices that we use become more connected, that we're able to provision them or we're able to control them ourselves and what we have to do to make them work for us, or alternatively have scaled down product that we can access that doesn't require an engineering degree to use them.
RW: Well, Arlene, Marty, thank you so much.
MC: Our great pleasure Rob.
AH: Thank you.
RW: Great fun.
AH: Thanks for the invitation, time to talk.