The telephone is one of the greatest inventions in history.
Early telephones were nothing like the ones we have today. Telephone is
the Greek word for “far sound.” This is how
the telephone became what it is today.
The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, with the help of his assistant Thomas A. Watson. Mr. Bell was originally from Scotland and came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1872. Mr. Bell got the idea for the telephone from a German inventor, Hermann von Helmholz.
Mr. Bell invented
the telephone by accident when he was trying to invent a device that could send more
than one telegram at the same time. Mr. Watson and
Mr. Bell were both practicing their musical instruments in separate rooms. Bell
spilled some polishing liquid on himself and
said over the telephone, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”
Mr. Bell also invented the microphone and the speaker.
telephone didn’t have a bell, so the caller had to tap the phone with a hammer
to let the receiver know a call was being sent to them. It was Thomas Watson who
invented the bell.
telephone operators only answered the phone when they felt like it. The operator
would pick up the phone and say, “Number please.” If the number wasn't busy, the
operator took a chord and plugged it into a switchboard. This connected the caller to the number.
system changed because there were too many people with telephones, and it cost
too much money to have that many operators working.
These first operators needed to have good memories to know which people
went with which plugs. In the 1880’s in Lowell, Massachusetts, there was a
measles epidemic. The doctors were worried that if all the operators got the
measles, then nobody would be able to control the telephone operating system. A
doctor suggested that rather than relying on operator’s memories, each person
should be assigned a number. This is how the telephone number came into play.
Telephone Company was founded by Alexander Graham Bell in 1877 to build a
nationwide telephone system. By 1881, there were 132,700 Bell telephones in
homes. By 1930, 15,193,000 phones
were in service.
telephone became one of the most popular methods of communication. People wrote
fewer letters and visited less often. A
farmer in Gratiot, Wisconsin in the 1900’s took apart his telephone to see how
it worked. When the carbon in the phone spilled out, he realized he could
replace it with gunpowder. But the instant he tried to call somebody, the
telephone blew up! The farmer wasn’t harmed, but he learned one lesson:
telephones don’t make good guns.
and Mr. Bell were the first people, on January 15, 1915, to make a
transcontinental call. A transcontinental call is a phone call made from one
side of the country to another. Bell was in New York and Watson was in
California. Bell repeated his famous line “Watson, come here, I want you.”
Watson replied, “It would take me a week to get there now.”
1940’s, after World War II, telephones became very popular. But it was too
expensive for each home to have it’s own line, so the party line system was
created. Although each home would have its own telephone, the party line system
had between two and four homes sharing a single phone line. This meant that you
could pick up your telephone and listen to your neighbor’s conversations.
telephone was invented in 1941. Then a transmitter was invented by Walter Hauser
Britain in 1947 to amplify the sound across the wires. This meant calls could
be sent longer distances. The first active satellite for telephones was launched in
1962. It was called Echo I and it orbited the earth once every 157 hours. This
was important because telephone calls could now be made across oceans without
relying on under-sea cables which broke frequently and were sometimes snacks for
sharks! In 1964, a non-moving satellite was launched into space .
service became available in 1963.
. Touch tone service became available in 1963.
A phone call works by going through the telephone wire and then to a radio wave. The radio wave sends it to the nearest transmitter, which sends it to the nearest telephone wire of the person receiving the call. To transmit calls, they used to use copper wires. Today, fiber optic cables and laser lights are used.
What would be the first thing you'd hear if you were on a telephone that was using the
operating system (operator)?
With all the new technology in the world, what’s ahead for the telephone? Perhaps someday people could have telephones on their wrist, or the person they’re talking to could be on their phone as a hologram. Or probably things we can’t even imagine. It’s all thanks to Alexander Graham Bell.
Holland, Gina and Amy Stone. Telephones. New York, New York: Benchmark Books, 1996.
Skurzynski, Gloria. Get the Message. New York, New York: Maxwell MacMillan Publishing Co., 1993.
Copyrighted images of animated telephones and clip art of telephone and map from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.