The Surprising Evolution Of The Telephone

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The telephone revolutionized how we communicate with each other. Instead of writing letters or walking to see each other, we could talk instantly over long distances. You could hear someone’s voice from miles away. Suddenly family members could call each other from across the country.

Now, we have instant communication around the globe. Nearly every person on the planet could call nearly any other person with the touch of a button. These same phones can order pizza and control our air conditioning. Our phones give us directions, and we’re even free from using cords to charge them. How did we get here?

The Evolution Of The Telephone

Most people have been told that Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, but many people argue that Antonio Meucci did it in 1856 when he first broadcast his voice over wires. Unfortunately for Meucci, he didn’t have the money to sell his inventions, so he has been mostly forgotten to history. Alexander Graham Bell followed shortly after that. His telephone was ready by 1876.

The First Long-Distance Call

The first long-distance phone call happened on April 1st, 1891 when someone placed a phone call from between London and Paris. The first international call was possible, because the French and English buried a line under the English Channel.

The First Long-Distance Call

The first long-distance phone call happened on April 1st, 1891 when someone placed a phone call from between London and Paris. The first international call was possible, because the French and English buried a line under the English Channel.

These systems didn’t work like our phones today. Whenever you placed a call, you’d start by calling the operator at a switchboard. You’d ask the operator to connect you to someone, and then you could make the call. Every phone call required a person to physically connect your phone line to someone else’s.

Automatic Dialing

The automatic switchboard followed shortly after the invention of the telephone, however. Almon Strowger patented the invention in 1891. In 1912, the first automatic switchboard came online in Britain, and Bell adopted it in 1919. Eventually the automatic switchboard took over the country’s telephone systems. 

Still, you needed an operator if you wanted to make a long-distance call. You had to use the operator to call up the local area’s phone network so it could connect your call. The country made the witch to automatic long-distance calling in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Party Lines

Because phone networks were expensive and difficult to install, most homes didn’t have a phone in the beginning. People would have to find one in a central location if they wanted to use it. Can you imagine having to walk somewhere to make a call?

Eventually, more and more homes had telephones, but they were connected by something called a party line. A party line connected up to 10 or even more households on the same phone line. 

Imagine picking up your phone to hear a voice on the line. It’s your neighbor, and you could hear the whole conversation. Imagine how much gossip a sneaky neighbor could get! If you wanted to make a call, you’d have to wait until your neighbors were off the line. You’d have to keep your call short, too, so you didn’t stop others. 

Mobile Phones

Martin Cooper, a researcher at Motorola, made the first mobile phone call on April 3rd, 1973. This was made possible by an actress, Hedy Lamarr, who invented Spread Spectrum Technology in 1941.

Motorola eventually developed the first commercially available mobile phone, Motorola DynaTAC 8000x. It weighed 2.4 pounds, and you could talk on it for a total of 30 minutes. Then, you’d have to charge it for 10 hours. 

As mobile phones improved, manufacturers started adding new services. First, there was voicemail. Then, they added texting.

 

Smartphones

Blackberry is the most famous early smartphone, released in 2002. It was best known for its keyboard, which looked a bit like the bumps on a blackberry. This mobile device focused on making email available to mobile subscribers, and it quickly became the go-to mobile phone for business.

The smartphone everyone knows and loves was born on January 9th, 2007, when Steve Jobs announced it at the Macworld convention. Since then, mobile phones kept developing until we have the variety of amazing phones we use today. 

It’s amazing to look back at how telephones became part of our lives and eventually grew into something indispensable. From the first days, when Alexander Graham Bell made the first call to know, the telephone kept growing and improving.

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