Once upon a time, from time long ago, a lot of cell phones, handheld devices, and later smartphones were manufactured in the United States of America. It may seem difficult to believe right now, considering that almost everything we use now is made in China. But it really happened. Before we abandoned hardware to the East, most of it was made here in the West.
It will interest you to know that Motorola was once a 100% American company, a pioneer in mobile, and the leading cell phone maker in the world for years. In 1973, Dr Martin Cooper, who as the General Manager at Motorola communications system division, made the first public mobile phone call.
The company went ahead to make some of the bestselling cellphones ever – including the famous RAZR V3, released in 2004 and which went on to sell over 130 million units. Others included the STARTAC, C200, and C139. In 2012, Motorola was acquired by Google, and was later sold to Lenovo in 2014, ending its American ownership.
But we must backtrack a little. Another American company, Palm Computing, had been making handheld devices since the 90s. In the early 200s, the company began to make PDA cellphones – phones with handheld/computing features. These were radical new devices and went on to be hugely successful. Palm smartphones ran PalmOS, switched to Windows Mobile, and later WebOS.
But Palm was not the only company making cell phones in America. Other top tech brands, like HP, Compaq, and Dell, all were involved in the PDA cell phone business, and they sold truckloads of their devices. Did I mention that palm was acquired by HP in 2011? In 2011, Palm was once again sold to TCL.
Anyway, back to the other American cell phone makers, HP, Compaq, and Dell were known for their Pocket PC and Windows Mobile smartphone devices. All of these used to be made in the USA. But they are all gone with the wind. By the mid-2000s, smartphone manufacturing was on a steep downward slide, as the United States of America struggled to keep up with the times.
Apple shook things up in the smartphone industry with the announcement of the iPhone in 2007. This was a new approach to smart mobile devices, and the world lapped it up. But alas, by then, manufacturing of mobile phones was past its glory days, and even Apple did not have the first generation iPhone made in America. It was made in Taiwan by Foxconn. While Apple is fully responsible for the design of the iPhone here in the USA, production is done outside the country.
Once upon a time, cell phones and smartphones by Motorola, Palm, HP, Compaq, and Dell used to be made in the USA. But that time is long gone. Today, only one smartphone is American-made. Most of the handheld devices we use across the length and breadth of this country are now made elsewhere.