John F. Mitchell

When he formulated the idea for the DynaTAC, Motorola's prototype for the first cellular phone, John F. Mitchell, who died on June 11 at 81, boasted that his creation would be useful to a "widely diverse group of people--businessmen, journalists, doctors, housewives, virtually anyone." But back in 1973, Mitchell--then chief engineer of the company's mobile- and portable-products division and later the company's president and chief operating officer--probably had no idea that by the time he retired, in 1998, wireless products would account for two-thirds of Motorola's $30 billion in annual sales. It's also a safe bet he never fathomed that nearly...

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