Two-way radios (known as mobile rigs) used in vehicles such as taxicabs, police cruisers, and ambulances are not mobile phones (because they were not connected to the telephone network). However a large community of mobile radio users, known as the mobileers, popularized this technology which would eventually give way to the mobile phone. Originally, the rigs were installed permanently in vehicles, but later versions were developed that could be carried and thus could be used as either mobile or as portable two-way radios. These were known as transportables or “bag phones” and were equipped with a cigarette lighter plug.
In 1956, the first fully automatic mobile phone system, called MTA (Mobile Telephone system A), was developed by Ericsson and commercially released in Sweden. This was the first system that did not require any kind of manual control in base stations, but had the disadvantage of a phone weight of 40 kg (90 lb). MTB, an upgraded version with transistors, weighing 9 kg (20 lb), was introduced in 1965 and used DTMF signaling. It had 150 customers in the beginning and 600 when it shut down in 1983.
In 1958 the USSR also began to deploy the “Altay” national civil mobile phone service specially for motorists. The newly-developed mobile telephone system was based on Soviet MRT-1327 standard. The main developers of the Altay system were the Voronezh Science Research Institute of Communications (VNIIS) and the State Specialized Project Institute (GSPI). In 1963 this service started in Moscow, and in 1970 the Altay service already was deployed in 30 cities of the USSR. The last upgraded versions of the Altay system are still in use in some places of Russia as a trunking system.
In 1959 a private telephone company located in Brewster, Kansas, USA, the S&T Telephone Company, (still in business today) with the use of Motorola Radio Telephone equipment and a private tower facility, offered to the public mobile telephone services in that local area of NW Kansas. This system was a direct dial up service through their local switchboard, and was installed in many private vehicles including grain combines, trucks, and automobiles. For some as yet unknown reason, the system after being placed online and operated for a very brief time period was shut down. The management of the company was immediately changed, and the fully operable system and related equipment was immediately dismantled in early 1960, not to be seen again.
In 1960, the world’s first partly automatic car phone system Mobile System A (MTA)|MTA was launched in Sweden. With MTA, calls could be made and received in the car to/from the public telephone network, and the car phone could be paged. The phone number was dialed using a rotary dial. Calling from the car was fully automatic, while calling to it required an operator. The person who wanted to call a mobile phone had to know which base station the mobile phone was covered by. The system was developed by Sture Laur?n and other engineers at Televerket network operator. Ericsson provided the switchboard while Svenska Radioaktiebolaget (SRA) owned by Ericsson and Marconi provided the telephones and base station equipment. MTA phones were consisted of vacuum tubes and relays, and had a weight of 40 kg. In 1962, a more modern version called Mobile System B (MTB) was launched, which was a push-button telephone, and which used transistors in order to enhance the telephone’s calling capacity and improve its operational reliability. In 1971 the MTD version was launched, opening for several different brands of equipment and gaining commercial success.
In 1966, Bulgaria presented the pocket mobile automatic phone RAT-0,5 combined with a base station RATZ-10 (RATC-10) on Interorgtechnika-66 international exhibition. One base station, connected to one telephone wire line, could serve up to six customers.