1973 – a year of technological firsts

Although memories of 1973 in the UK may be blighted by inflation, increasing unemployment and the 3-day working week it was also the year of many technological firsts which together have led to the world that we live in today.

Which ones do you remember?

First personal computer

Developed at Xerox in 1973, the Alto was the first computer to be called a desktop as it had a mouse and a graphical user interface with icons. Not commercially available but used at Xerox and at several universities and government agencies. The design of the Alto had a major influence in the way future personal computers were developed.

First mobile phone call

Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first handheld cellular phone call in April 1973.  Using a prototype that would become the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, the world’s first commercial mobile phone, Martin Cooper amazed reporters and bystanders by making a call from Sixth Avenue, New York to Joel Engel of Bell Labs in New Jersey.

That call was a major step in the development of mobile technology, although it would take another 10 years for the DynaTAC to become commercially available.

Creation of the Ethernet

First created at Xerox in 1973, the Ethernet allowed network communication between computers, servers and printers in a Local Area Network (LAN).

The Ethernet went on to be introduced to the commercial market in 1980.

Invention of Fibre Optic cables

1973 saw the invention of fibre optical cable using glass. Fibre optic cables reduce loss of signal over long distances and carry greater bandwidth than copper cables, enabling multiple signals to be transmitted more quickly over greater distances.

First Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) phone call

The first time Voice over IP call was placed which meant that voice, fax, or text messaging could be transported over the internet rather than via the public switched telephone network.

Airbags first installed 

General Motors in the US installed airbags in a fleet of 1973 Chevrolet Impalas but only for government use at the time. A year later the Oldsmobile Tornado was the first car with a passenger airbag to be sold to the public. But it wasn’t until 1980 with the Mercedes-Benz S-class (W126) that airbags were an option in Europe and the UK.

Jet Ski launched

Invented by Clayton Jacobson II, a dirt bike enthusiast, the Jet Ski or Personal Watercraft was manufactured by Kawasaki and sold commercially for the first time in 1973.

The following two tabs change content below.

Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

Latest posts by Melina - Assistant Editor (see all)

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!