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A Black Man, Father of the Cell Phone?

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) To this point, the economic growth leader of the 21st century is the wireless communications industry. Millions of people regularly use cellular phones. With today’s cell phone, you can talk to anyone on the planet. Inside your cell phone are: a compact speaker, microphone, keyboard, display screen, and a powerful circuit board with microprocessors that make every phone a miniature computer. When connected to a wireless network, this bundle of modern-day technologies allows you to make phone calls or exchange data with other phones and computers around the world.

Jesse Eugene Russell is an African-American inventor who brought the world cell phones. Trained as an electrical engineer at Tennessee State University, at 63, Jesse Russell is recognized globally as a thought-leader, technology expert and innovator of wireless communications. He has over 30 years experience in advanced wireless communications and is the recognized father of digital cellular technology. The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduate is former Chief Wireless Architect for AT&T Bell Laboratories and served as Chief Technology Officer for Lucent Wireless. An icon in the industry, Jesse Russell holds over 75 patents in digital cellular technologies, dual-mode digital cellular phones and digital software radio. An American legend, in 1995 Russell was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering for “pioneering work in digital cellular communications technology.”

Russell’s innovations continue to spark the international economy. The globe expects some 2.5 billion smartphones to be sold from 2010 to 2015. The main reason for cell phones’ popularity over the past 20 years is the faster and easier communications it provides. A cell phone is really a very sophisticated and versatile radio. Much like a walkie-talkie, a cell phone receives and sends radio signals. Wireless networks operate on a grid that divides cities or regions into smaller cells. One cell might cover a few city blocks or up to 250 square miles. Every cell uses a set of radio frequencies or channels to provide service in its specific area. In each cell, there is a base station consisting of a wireless antenna and other radio equipment. The wireless antenna in each cell links callers into the local telephone network, the Internet or another wireless network.

African-Americans can take pride in what Russell has achieved in the planet’s business advancements. From being honored by the Clinton administration for his work in cell phones and wireless communication, Russell continues to innovate, specifically in the next generation (4G) broadband wireless communication technologies, products, networks, and services. Rising from a disadvantaged background, Russell's career, and knowledge in wireless technology and standards advanced as he served in numerous high-level corporate positions; Director of the AT&T Cellular Telecommunication Laboratory (Bell Labs), Vice President of Advanced Wireless Technology Laboratory (Bell Labs), Chief Technical Officer for the Network Wireless Systems Business Unit (Bell Labs), Chief Wireless Architect of AT&T, and Vice President of Advanced Communications Technologies for AT&T Laboratories (formerly part of Bell Labs).

Jesse Russell’s early childhood was spent in economically and socially challenged neighborhoods within inner-city Nashville. Russell says a key turning point in his life was the opportunity to attend a summer educational program at Fisk University. It was here that Russell began his academic and intellectual pursuits. Russell continued his education at Tennessee State University where he focused on electrical engineering and received a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSEE) in 1972. An excellent example of “a Black achiever,” Russell was a top honor student in Tennessee State’s School of Engineering and became the first African American to be hired directly from an HBCU by AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and subsequently he became the first African-American to be selected as the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer of the Year in 1980. Russell continues his personal and corporate leadership in the industry and is currently Chairman and CEO of incNETWORKS,Inc. a New Jersey, USA based Broadband Wireless Communications Company focused on the next generation of broadband services (4G) Broadband Wireless Communications Technologies, Networks and Services.

William Reed is Publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org.

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+1 # marshata randall 2013-02-23 06:57
African Americans are USED to their "inventions" being stolen!!!!! CONGRATS Dr. Russell!!!
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-29 # Guest 2011-12-19 16:02
While Mr. Russell may have filled some positions as a token pickaninny, he is not the father of the cell phone as you say. He is probably the father of several children of mothers in his department, as he was widely known for spending time with secretaries and others, in the cloakroom. Some of them wish they had a cell phone, or at least a can of mace, when he muhdikked them. Sheesh.
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+7 # Guest 2011-11-07 09:04
Russell is known for technical contributions to, and leadership in, digital cellular communications technology. His patented innovations in the field of Mobile Radio Telecommunication Systems are the foundational technology of digital communications. Originally, cell phones were analog and not digital and could not support mobility and a significant number of users. Digital Cellular Technologies provided the capability to enable mobility, support significant number of users and support multiple communication devices. Today’s bandwidth dependent mobile devices such as Smartphones, and tablets operate with the ease and efficiency we expect because of Russell’s innovative work in digital communications technology. Russell did not invent the cell phone; he developed and contributed to the underlying digital cellular technologies which have driven the industry
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+8 # Guest 2011-11-06 16:44
I've worked for Mr. Russell off and on for the 18 years I worked for AT&T Bell Labs. He was one of the people who gave me a chance to play with wireless technology and learn a hell of a lot about myself in the process.
In my view, his greatest acheivement was his willingness to help others acheive their dreams.
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+9 # Guest 2011-11-01 19:19
Way to go Mr. Russell,
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-9 # Guest 2011-10-18 10:50
Mr Russell has made contributions to the wireless tecnology, but is not credited with being the inventor of the cell phone. Dr Martin Cooper is the inventor of the Motorola Dynatac 8000x in which he called his competitor Joel Engel in New York to compete the first wireless phone call in 1973.
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