Arlene Harris (inventor)

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Arlene Harris
Arlene Harris, the 1st lady of wireless (cropped).jpg
Arlene Joy Harris[1]

(1948-06-06) June 6, 1948 (age 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
ResidenceDel Mar, California, U.S.
EmployerDyna LLC.
Known forDyna LLC.
Jitterbug cellular
TitleFounder and CEO of Dyna LLC.
Martin Cooper (m. 1991)

Arlene Joy Harris (born June 6, 1948), is an entrepreneur, inventor, investor, and policy advocate in the telecommunications industry. She is the president and co-founder of Dyna LLC, an incubator for start-up and early-stage organizations historically in the wireless technology field. Ms. Harris is widely recognized as a pioneer in mobile and wireless enterprise and an innovator of consumer products and services.[2][3][4] She was the first woman inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame in May 2007[5] and was named to the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in 2017.[6]

Harris started and built several companies. She was a founding member of many early cellular industry organizations and holds several patents in wireless communications. Her companies’ successes included achieving substantial market share for cellular billing systems, developing and implementing the first prepaid cellular service, and creating the first automated wireless management systems. Notably, she led the development and market introduction of the SOS phone, renamed the Jitterbug® as part of her GreatCall organization. The Jitterbug phone was developed and launched in 2006 in partnership with Samsung.[7] Subsequently it was sold to a Chicago private equity company in July 2017 and acquired on August 15, 2018 by Best Buy Co, Inc.[8]


Born and raised in Los Angeles, Harris began her career at the age of 12 as a mobile telephone switchboard operator for her family's business, Industrial Communications Systems (ICS), Inc. (sold to Metromedia in 1983, now Spok).


Wrethink and Wrethinking

As co-founder and president of Dyna LLC, located in Del Mar, California, Ms. Harris is currently founding the start-up Wrethink, a high-tech fixed broadband company focused on consumer privacy and helping families use technology to organize and manage personal information. She has also started a foundation to fund early-stage technology companies that embrace charitable and/or social purposes. Ms. Harris works with Martin Cooper, her husband, business partner, and Dyna LLC co-founder. (Mr. Cooper is a former Motorola vice president who developed and introduced the first handheld cellular mobile phone in 1973.[9] In 2000, Mr. Cooper was an inaugural member of the Wireless Hall of Fame.[10])

Accessible Wireless

In 2001, Ms. Harris acquired cellular carrier Accessible Wireless in order to provide a home carrier service for offerings targeting low-usage services. Accessible Wireless enabled the wireless services delivered later by GreatCall, Inc. at a time when other wireless carriers did not support low-usage service or provide value added services needed by GreatCall’s customers.

GreatCall, Inc.

GreatCall, acquired by Best Buy on August 15, 2018, was founded by Harris to establish the Best Buy’s connected health market entry. Harris conceived and led GreatCall through the development of the Jitterbug phone in partnership with Samsung. Jitterbug is a cellular device designed to provide wireless cellular access to less-tech savvy customers, such as senior citizens.[11] Jitterbug was named to the New York Times “Top 10 List” of greatest technology ideas of 2006, per personal tech columnist David Pogue.[12] It was a finalist in Yahoo's "Last Gadget Standing" competition at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2007[13] and was named by Reader’s Digest as one of its “Top 100 Products”. In the same year, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), a trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the United States, recognized GreatCall with the wireless industry's coveted Andrew Seybold Choice Award for "Best New Company”.[14] GreatCall was also acclaimed by the American Society on Aging with the Stevie Award for "Best Small Business in 2008”.[15]

In 2009, GreatCall acquired Mobiwatch,[16][17] a company focused on developing Mobile Personal Emergency Response Services (M-PERS), for an undisclosed amount and spent the following two years implementing a service that, along with Jitterbug, established GreatCall’s connected health solution.

Wireless History Foundation

Harris founded the Wireless History Foundation in 2008 along with Liz Maxfield and Judith Lockwood Purcell. The Wireless History Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to preserve and promote the history of the wireless industry. Harris remains on the organization’s board of directors.[18]


In 1994, Harris founded SOS Wireless Communications. SOS developed a phone and specialized services for making outgoing calls for urgent and occasional communications marketed primarily to elderly Americans.[19]


In 1981, under the leadership of Ms. Harris, ICS developed the first wireless consumer healthcare application. Called Life Page, the program provided pagers to patients awaiting organ transplants. She later promoted and expanded the program to Telocator, the National Trade Association for independent wireless operators. (Telocator later became the Personal Communications Industry Association [PCIA], which recently changed its name to the Wireless Infrastructure Association [WIA].)

Under Harris and her family’s direction, ICS became the largest single-city paging system in the world. Most notably, ICS was among the first of any category of business to create online computer systems to manage business subscriber offerings, now referred to as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

In addition to its direct sales to businesses, ICS also supported the first wholesale wireless service in history, starting in 1972. This wholesale model promoted substantial growth and shareholder value for ICS, its suppliers, and its partners. Because of the success ICS realized in its wholesale strategy of bolstering opportunities for partners and service adoption by new users, its resale concept was mandated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the original cellular spectrum allocations in 1982. In 1983, Harris co-founded Cellular Business Systems, Inc. (CBSI), which was sold to Cincinnati Bell Information Systems in 1986 and is now Netcracker. At CBSI, Harris guided the development of a billing/CRM (customer relationship management) service bureau (currently known as SAAS—software-as-a-service). CBSI developed the first automated cellular service activation systems (referred to as “provisioning systems”) now used globally in retail locations to remotely and instantly activate cellular phones. Also, at CBSI, Harris served as one of three FCC committee members challenged to develop intersystem roaming protocols. The committee was established to create the methods by which cellular companies enabled and billed customers who visited their networks. The committee's work, along with subsequent efforts by CTIA, resulted in the Cellular Inter-carrier Billing Exchange Record (CIBER) used throughout the cellular industry.

In 1986, Harris founded the software company Subscriber Computing, Inc. which was acquired by Corsair Communications Inc. in April 1998. (Corsair was then sold to Lightbridge Inc. in 2000.) Susbscriber Computing, Inc. built and delivered systems to the largest paging companies in the world. These systems provided the first converged billing systems for cellular transmissions and Internet communications to leading global technology companies including Motorola, British Telecom, and Hutchinson. In 1988, Subscriber Computing, Inc. implemented the first communications methods used to support access to cellular services by low and no-credit consumers. This is now known as "prepaid" cellular service, which has grown to one of the primary choices for cellular customers. The advent of prepaid cellular service generated rapid cellular adoption in developing countries where consumer credit was scarce. Harris’ team used some of the same realtime techniques employed in prepaid cellular service for the development of systems created to prevent the fraudulent use of cellular phones – a problem that caused revenue losses for cellular carriers due to stolen airtime.

In 1986, Harris also founded the company Cellular Pay Phone, Inc. (CPPI), where she developed her first patented invention, the first unique application of cellular service – custom designed cellular phone and a program-controlled end-to-end management system (created with Mal Gurian at OKI Electronics and the Cellular Mobile Division at Motorola). This offering made CPPI the first niche cellular reseller to create a tightly integrated system to support cellular service with automated payments by credit card. This system was licensed to GTE Mobilnet for use in its ViaCall service, which provided pay cellphones in public vehicles, limousines, trains, barges, and oil rigs. In 1986, Harris launched Dyna LLC in Chicago, Illinois, and later relocated the organization to Del Mar, California, to incubate and spin out new ideas and to help young companies and entrepreneurs.


  • Patent# 5291543A
    • Patent Name: Cellular telephone real time account administration system (prepaid)
    • Priority Date: 12/5/1990
  • Patent# 5148472
    • Patent Name: Cellular telephone call administration system (prepaid)
    • Priority Date: 12/05/1990
  • Patent# 4776003
    • Patent Name: Cellular mobile radio credit card system
    • Priority Date: 10/01/1986
  • Patent# EP 0264023 A3
    • Patent Name: Cellular mobile radio credit card system
    • Priority Date: 10/1/1986
  • Patent# 5625880
    • Patent Name: Spectrally efficient and high capacity acknowledgement radio paging system
    • Priority Date: 12/12/1991
  • Patent# 4777646
    • Patent Name: Communication system
    • Priority Date: 10/1/1986
  • Patent# 20130143609
    • Patent Name: Methods and apparatus for updating a communications device using sms messages
    • Priority Date: 6/13/2005
  • Patent# 20070298776 / 7274931 /8155710
    • Patent Name: Systems and methods for enhancing the provisioning and functionality of wireless instruments
    • Priority Date: 2/23/2004
  • Patent# 20060019729 A1
    • Patent Name: Systems and methods for a comfortable wireless communication device
    • Priority Date: 4/7/2007
  • Patent# 7706831
    • Patent Name: Simplified intuitive cell phone user interface
    • Priority Date: 5/6/2013
  • Patent# 20070087774
    • Patent Name: Communications device methods and apparatus including ergonomic key layout and intuitive user interface
    • Priority Date: 6/12/2005

Awards and Recognitions[edit]

  • Ms. Harris named to The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, April 7, 2017
    • The CTA Hall of Fame honors the leaders who advance innovation and have built the foundation for the technologies, products, and services that continue to improve consumers’ lives and better our world.
  • Ms. Harris honored among Girl Scouts “10 Cool Women of 2013”– June 2013
    • Girl Scouts San Diego honored 10 exemplary local women whose personal and professional achievements make them consummate role models for girls.
  • Ms. Harris elected to honor society Beta Gamma Sigma – May 2012
    • Ms. Harris was inducted as an honorary member of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society recognizing top business students from around the world.
  • GreatCall won Stevie Award as “Best Overall Company”– June 2008
    • GreatCall was honored with a 6th Annual Stevie Award in June 2008 as “Best Overall Company of the Year—Service Businesses
  • Ms. Harris received ATHENA Pinnacle Award – May 2008
    • Ms. Harris received an ATHENA Pinnacle Award as an “Individual in Technology” for her role in introducing Jitterbug.
  • Ms. Harris and Mr. Cooper honored among “Top U.S. Wireless Innovators of All Time” – May 2008
    • Fierce Wireless named Ms. Harris and Mr. Cooper among the Top Ten Wireless Innovators of All Time. This was in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Mr. Cooper making the first ever cell phone call in April 1983.
  • Jitterbug named best small company by American Society on Aging – 2008
    • Jitterbug received the “Best Small Business” Award from the American Society on Aging (ASA)in 2008 along with Johnson & Johnson, winner in the large company category, and previous winners CVS Pharmacy, PacifiCare, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Southwest Airlines, IBM, and May Department Stores.
  • Ms. Harris inducted into Wireless Hall of Fame – May 26, 2007
    • In May 2007, Ms. Harris’ numerous contributions and steadfast dedication to the industry were recognized when she was named to the Wireless Hall of Fame. RCR Wireless News announced the award with this introduction: “Arlene Harris, … often called the First Lady of Wireless, has seen the industry grow up and says there is still a vast future ahead for wireless-even though its humble beginnings aren’t all that far in the past.”
  • GreatCall named Best New Wireless Company by Andrew Seybold– April 2007
    • Industry analyst Andrew Seybold presented Jitterbug with the “Best New Company” award at his 2007 Wireless Dinner, attended by top industry executives.
  • Jitterbug selected a finalist in Consumer Electronic Show (CES) “Last Gadget Standing” competition– January 2007
    • Of the hundreds of products shown at the 2007 CES, Jitterbug was among the ten products the judges recognized as representing the best ideas and trends at the show.
  • Jitterbug listed in Reader’s Digest Best 100 Products – 2007
    • In 2007, Readers’ Digest magazine named Jitterbug to its “Best 100 Products” list.
  • Jitterbug placed 3rd in CTIA E-Tech Awards– March, 2006
    • From a field of nearly 200 applications, GreatCall’s Jitterbug handset and service combination was selected as the 3rd place winner of the Wireless Emerging Technologies Award at CTIA Wireless 2006 in the Hardware/Mobile Phone category. The E-Tech Awards program gave industry recognition and exposure to the best wireless products and services.
  • Ms. Harris received the PCIA Distinguished Chairman’s Award – 2000
    • Ms. Harris was honored with the Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA) Distinguished Chairman’s Award for her services to the PCIA Foundation.


  • Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Stuart School of Business
    • Ms. Harris a member of the Board
  • Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Institute of Design
    • Ms. Harris sits on the Board
  • UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering
    • Ms. Harris is a member of the Council of Advisors
  • Girl Scouts San Diego
    • Girl Scouts San Diego honored Ms. Harris as one of “10 Cool Women of 2013” whose personal and professional achievements make them consummate role models for girls.
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
    • Ms. Harris was inducted as an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society recognizing top business students from around the world.
  • Wireless Hall of Fame
    • In May 2007, Ms. Harris was named to the Wireless Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to the wireless industry.
  • Wireless History Foundation
    • Ms. Harris, along with Liz Maxfield and Judith Lockwood Purcell, founded the Wireless History Foundation in 2008. The Wireless History Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to preserve and promote the history of the wireless industry. Ms. Harris remains on the organization’s board of directors.
  • Personal Computer Industry Association (PCIA)
    • Ms. Harris received the PCIA Distinguished Chairman’s Award for her services to the PCIA Foundation.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    • Ms. Harris participated in early cellular standards development at the FCC
  • Telecommunications Industry Association
    • Ms. Harris participated in early cellular standards development at the Telecommunications Industry Association


  1. ^ "Arlene Joy Harris profile". Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "Arlene Harris - Top U.S. Wireless Innovators of All Time | FierceWireless". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  3. ^ Lee, Rikki (2000-02-28). "Enterprising WOMEN OF WIRELESS.(Industry Trend or Event)". Wireless Week. Archived from the original on 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  4. ^ Newnham, Danielle (2016-11-18). Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech. Apress. ISBN 9781484223642.
  5. ^ "Harris, Kitchen inducted into 2007 Wireless Hall of Fame". RCR Wireless News. 1999-11-30. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  6. ^ "CTA - CTA Names 12 Industry Leaders to the 2017 CT Hall of Fame". CTA. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  7. ^ "GreatCall's Jitterbug Receives CTIA Wireless 2006 E-tech Award for Innovation in Hardware Category; First Cell Offering for Boomers and Their Parents Receives Recognition at the World's Largest Wireless Show". 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  8. ^ "Best Buy Acquires GreatCall, a Leading Connected Health Services Provider". Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  9. ^ "38 years ago he made the first cell phone call". Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  10. ^ "Marty Cooper". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  11. ^ "Cell Phones, Medical Alert & Safety for Seniors | GreatCall". Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  12. ^ Jitterbug. Oxford Music Online. 1. Oxford University Press. 2001. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.14320.
  13. ^ "Yahoo! Tech Announces Winners of Last Gadget Standing Event at CES 2007". 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  14. ^ "The Best of The Anderw Seybold Choice Awards". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  15. ^ "2008 Honorees | Stevie Awards". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  16. ^ "Jitterbug scoops up M-PERS start-up, MobiWatch". MobiHealthNews. 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  17. ^ "GreatCall Buys MobiWatch". PE Hub. 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  18. ^ "Who We Are". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  19. ^ Gregson, Reily (April 7, 1997). "SOS PHONE SERVES SECURITY CONSCIOUS CELLULAR PHONE OWNERS". RCR Wireless.

External links[edit]