seeing is believing episode 1: autumn 2002 episode .
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New York
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Kenya
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Venezuela
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United Kingdom
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Bangladesh
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Finland
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Congo
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Philippines
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Israel
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New York
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Cellphone fever born in 1973
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New Yorkers were catching disco fever and walking around in platform shoes when Martin Cooper made a phone call that changed history. Standing on a busy New York street corner in 1973, Cooper placed the first ever call from a cellphone, launching the wireless revolution.
Generally acknowledged as the father of the hand-held cell, Cooper was a vice-president at Motorola Corporation and was competing with AT&T's Bell Labs to create the first portable phones for cars. The devices were going to weigh a hefty 13 kilograms but Cooper convinced Motorola to shrink the phones so a person could carry them.
On his way to the first public demonstration, Cooper decided to test the device one more time. From a street corner, he called his competitors at Bell Labs. I don't remember my precise words. I do remember a kind of embarrassed silence at the other end, Cooper later told a reporter. It took 10 more years and US$90 million before the first cellphones went on the market.
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But the investment paid off big-time for Motorola. Wireless technology fueled the company's rise as one of the world's largest multinationals. Helped along by a flood of U.S. military funds, cellphone technology revolutionized how people communicate and portable phones kept getting smaller. As retail cost and size dropped, new markets opened in developing countries, where cellphones allowed ordinary people to sidestep poor conventional communications infrastructure. But as with most new inventions, cellphones also had a dark side. Wireless technology has revolutionized military and intelligence operations, allowing soldiers and spies to become more lethal and intrusive. Instead of lugging massive radio sets, soldiers can talk to headquarters with tiny head-mounted devices and get real-time tactical intelligence streamed into battlefield laptop computers.
As well, evidence has emerged that cellphones give off electromagnetic radiation that may lead to memory loss, fatigue and brain cancer. Widespread cellphone use has contributed to a rise in road accidents by distracted drivers and to frustration in restaurants and movie theatres. In 1999, a man was beaten to death with a beer bottle in Germany because he would not turn off his mobile phone in a beer garden.
And the world's cellphone fever didn't stop Motorola from getting nearly flattened in the high-tech meltdown, forcing the company to lay off 39,000 workers in 2001.

Next: Kenya
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