Who invented the Phone Charger? (Invention Timeline Explained)

It’s understandable to be a little curious about the device you use to charge your smartphones. There are so many different phone chargers out there — from the one that came with your smartphone to different USB cables that could connect to power adapters — that it’s genuinely fascinating to see where it all started. It goes without saying that the phone charger is intertwined with the mobile phone, as one will not work without the other. Here’s a quick timeline on the evolution of the phone charger!

Who invented the phone charger?

The inventors of the phone charger are naturally also the inventors of the first mobile phone. John F. Mitchell, chief engineer in Motorola, was one of the pioneers and developed the first mobile phone charger, belonging to the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x.

The phone charger’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Dr. James Mikulsk
    Planted the seeds for the first charger and mobile phone

    Dr. James Mikulsk was the first to talk about the potential of such an invention, but it was rejected by John Mitchell at the beginning. Eventually, he warmed up to the idea and got to work.

  • John F. Mitchell
    Inventor of the first phone charger

    The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x came with two types of chargers. One was the trickle charger, and the other fast charge, both invented by Motorola.

  • Wen-Chin Yang
    Developed and patented the modern mobile phone charger

    The charger Wen-Chin Yang patented had a DC converter, a USB interface, and a plug you could insert into computers to get a charge from the electricity.

  • Pisen
    Developers of the first power bank

    The Chinese company Pisen developed the first portable power bank. The original design made use of two AA batteries.

  • NTT DoCoMo
    Attempted to build a charger using methanol fuel cells

    The interesting thing is that fuel cells became a popular idea to make the charging time faster. That said, this particular device was not released to the public, but still played a role in the development and evolution of the charger.

When was the phone charger invented?

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x’s charger became commercially available in 1983. The trickle charger came with the phone, and the fast charger was a separate accessory.

A brief history of the phone charger

For as long as mobile phones have existed, phone chargers have been developed alongside it. Before that, the idea of rechargeable batteries came from the development of the first batteries, and the need for electronics sparked the development of batteries in the first place. To peg the history of the phone charger is to talk about all of the mobile phones that have been released, which is why it’s best to just talk about the key milestones.

The phone charger was released commercially alongside the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, which was the brainchild of John F. Mitchell. That specific model, being the very first of its kind, was incredibly bulky. Naturally, something that bulky would also have a charger with similar heft. Back in the day, it took quite a long time to charge the batteries inside a phone, as the trickle charger would take hours upon hours to get the job done. However, there was a fast charger you could get for the phone that did a much better job overall, but was still limited by its time.

With the development of mobile phones, the technology of phone chargers would naturally improve as a result. In 2000, Wen-Chin Yang developed and patented what was to become the modern mobile phone charger, and it came with all the things people would come to expect. Pisen, a Chinese company, would then develop the first portable mobile bank in 2001. With the improvement of the batteries present in smartphones, the mobile phone charger experienced the same strides, turning it into the highly accessible device it is today. 

The phone charger timeline

  1. 1983
    The first commercial phone charger is released

    When Motorola developed the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, it came with the trickle charger. It was a hefty device, built for an equally hefty phone.

  2. 2000
    The first modern mobile phone charger is released

    Wen-Chin Yang patents the first mobile phone charger. The charger has a DC converter, a USB interface, and a plug you could insert into computers to get a charge from the electricity.

  3. 2001
    The release of the first portable power bank

    The Chinese company Pisen releases a simple yet effective portable phone charger that uses AA batteries. The phone charger continued to make strides and the designs would change alongside the release of newer and better mobile phones.

Where was the phone charger invented?

The first phone charger was invented by Motorola in Chicago, Illinois. It took many years of research and development before the charger was commercially available alongside the first mobile phone.

The importance of the phone charger

  • An indispensable tool for electronics

    For as long as the mobile phone has existed, so too have mobile chargers been a part of history. These mobile phone chargers are trailblazers when it comes to charging batteries, as the fast charger accessory existed from the very beginning.

  • Mobile phone chargers pave the way for progress

    One of the best parts about mobile phone chargers is how it tends to pave the way for progress. Advanced phone chargers are typically used with advanced batteries — it’s inseparable from smartphones, laptops, and many others. So long as it’s connected to a battery, phone chargers will always be relevant.

  • Not easy to live without phone chargers

    Imagine not having a means of charging your electronic devices. It’s probably a nightmare scenario for most!

  • A variety of phone chargers

    The great thing about mobile phone chargers is the sheer variety of different chargers you can buy. You don’t have to stick with the original charger of your phone — you can have a few backups, including some that only work with other computers, etc.

Phone chargers by the numbers

  • 10The number of hours it takes to charge the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x with the trickle charger. It’s a hefty phone charger, and the first of its kind.
  • 1Surprisingly, the number of hours it takes to charge the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x with the fast charger. 
  • 2013The year when wireless chargers were developed, but it didn’t make waves until a few years later.
  • 3It takes the typical power bank about 3 hours to fully charge a phone. Whether high-capacity or low-ranked, the portable power bank is always handy to have.

Five facts about the phone charger

  • How the charger holds up over time

    The phone charger’s only as good as the battery it powers. For example, the average battery for lithium ion is good for about 300-500 charge cycles. That places the optimal time of charging between 1-2 years. Once it’s passed that mark, the battery will start to degrade. 

  • The trouble with memory charge

    Old phone batteries used to suffer from something called memory charge, where it would never hold the same amount of charge once it reaches full capacity. These days, it’s perfectly fine to charge the phone overnight, though the memory charge issue still has people avoiding overcharging their phones.

  • Built to last, but not perfect

    They say that if you take good care of your phone charger and go for best-practice methods, the phone’s battery will last indefinitely. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. No matter your best-practice methods, there will come a time when it can no longer hold a charge.

  • A matching voltage

    When purchasing battery chargers for your phone, ensure that you go for the one with the same voltage as your device. Too many people make the mistake of using a charger with a different voltage, and it can cause problems down the line.

  • Benefits of fast charging

    The cool thing about fast charging is it can help your phone last longer while simultaneously charging it much quicker than normal. There are quite a few devices out there that specialize in quick charging.

FAQ about phone chargers

  • Can I use different chargers for my phone?

    Mobile phone chargers have the distinction of being quite varied. Provided you know the voltage, you can purchase new chargers online that do just as good a job as the charger that came with the phone.

  • Will I damage my phone charger if I overuse it?

    The phone charger can be quite durable, which means you won’t have to worry about damaging the phone charger through overuse. That said, some phones can be damaged by overcharging — particularly the older models.

  • Will phones only work with one type of charger?

    Typically, the smartphone will work best with the charger that comes with the box. However, you can mix and match chargers provided you know the voltage. There are so many phone chargers and replacement chargers available it can be a little overwhelming!

  • Does temperature affect the charger?

    Temperature is known as the battery killer, but it doesn’t affect the device’s ability to charge your phone. It’s a good idea not to use your phone too much when charging, as it causes the temperature to get a little too hot — potentially damaging the battery in the process.

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