The scientific and technological ingenuity of the Black race has been over the years been hidden, belittled and under-appreciated. One of such unpronounced truths about the excellence of Black people in the world is the invention of the digital cell phone. The cell phone was invented by a Black man named Jesse Eugene Russell.
Today in Africa, millions of people tend to attribute the invention of the smartphone, among many other inventions to the Europeans. Sadly, these folks are not aware that the digital phone was originally invented by a Black man.
Apparently, Jesse Eugene Russell’s story is one of those that makes us exceptionally proud. Howbeit, Jesse isn’t the only Black person who has had an impact on the telecommunications industry. Like Jesse, Dr. Marian Rogers Croak invented the VOIP system which made it possible to make calls over the internet.
Early Life And Education Of Jesse Eugene Russell
Russell was born on April 26, 1948 in Nashville, Tennessee, in the USA. He was born into a family of 13. He had eight brothers and two sisters, and their father and mother were Charles Albert Russell and Mary Louise Russell respectively.
Like many blacks living in America at the time, the Russells lived in a socially deprived part of town. In his early years, Jesse engaged a lot in athletics. Later on, he was opportuned to attend a summer education program at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
During the summer education program, he did exceptionally well. And from then, he moved on to study Electrical Engineering at Tennessee State University. In 1972, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSEE) in Electrical Engineering. And to prove that he was an excellent mind, he graduated as a top honor student from the School of Engineering.
Russell’s excellence and academic qualifications stood him out and made him the first African-American to be employed by AT&T from a Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs). Also, he became the first Black person in the USA to be selected as the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer of the Year in 1980.
Furthermore, in 1973, Jesse Eugene Russell obtained a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) from Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California.
His Invention Of The Digital Mobile Phone
In 1988, while he worked as an engineer at AT&T-Bell Laboratories, Jesse developed the world’s first digital cellular base station. He holds the patent to the digital services which many companies use till today.
Before Russell’s invention of the wireless mobile device, the devices available at the time were mainly used in vehicles. This was mainly because those devices needed power for them to transmit signals to a nearby cell tower. And up to that period, the power needed to operate a mobile phone was too much for it to fit into a wireless movable device.
It was Russell’s creation of the mobile device that made it possible for mobile phones to be handy and affordable today. His innovation made it possible for mobile devices to transmit signals between the handsets we use today, and the cell phone towers.
Russell’s supervisor at the AT&T-Bell Laboratories had come to him with an impossible task which no other employee wanted to handle. Both AT&T and other major telecommunications companies found it hard to figure out a way to make the cell phones into wireless mobile phones. Russell accepted the challenge of having to figure it out, and eventually, he was able to make it possible.
In a interview about how he was able to create a wireless mobile phone, he said:
“I’ll never forget the first day on the job, I called a meeting with all of the managers… they were all white, I was the only black hiring. And I was saying, ‘Well, what’s the problem?’ Because they [AT&T] were losing so much money, it was pathetic… They said, “The problem is that we can only make money when people are in their cars, the phone rings then they answer…but most of the time, people are not in their cars.” “I said.’ Well that then seems like an easy problem to solve, right?’ Why don’t we just take the phones out of the car and put them on put them on the people?”
A Genius With Over 100 Patents To His Name
After Russell invented the wireless mobile device, he went on to invent many other ground-breaking innovations around wireless communication systems. Up till today, he remains a leading name in the architectures and technology that are related to ‘radio access networks’, ‘end-user devices’ and in-building wireless communication systems.
He created a company called incNETWORKS Inc, where he is the Chairman and CEO. incNETWORKS Inc is a broadband wireless communications company situated in New Jersey. The organization now works solely on 4G broadband wireless communications technologies, networks, and services.
Some of the patents to Russell’s name are: “Base Station for Mobile Radio Telecommunications Systems,” (1992), the “Mobile Data Telephone,” (1993), and the “Wireless Communication Base Station” (1998).