Mark Twain on the invention of the
telephone - "The human
voice carries entirely too far as it is...and now you fellows come along
and seek to complicate matters."
Device for communicating sound, especially
speech, usually by means of wires in an electric circuit.
Derived from the Greek words "tele"
meaning "far off" and "phonos" meaning "sound."
The first telephone book ever issued contained only fifty names. The
New Haven District Telephone Company published it in New Haven in
The first female operator was Emma M. Nutt, who started working for
Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, on September 1, 1878. Prior to
that, all operators were men.
The dial phone was invented in the 1880's by Almond Brown Stowger,
who was a Kansas City, MO undertaker and was convinced that the Bell
Telephone operator was sending calls for his funeral home to the
operator's brother-in-law, a competitor.
In 1889, the first coin-operated telephone, patented by Hartford,
Connecticut inventor William Gray, was installed in the Hartford Bank.
Local calls using a coin-operated phone in the U.S. cost only 5 cents
everywhere until 1951.
In 1904, a three minute telephone call from Denver, CO to New York
City cost $11.00.
In 1904, only eight percent of all homes in the United States had a
The first touch-tone system which used tones rather
than pulses generated by rotary dials was installed in
Baltimore, MD in 1941. By the early 1960's, the introduction
of touch-tone into home telephones was made possible due to
low-cost transistors. The first commercial touch-tone phones
were previewed at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.
Telstar, the world's first international communications satellite,
was rocketed into orbit on July 10, 1962, with a collaboration between
NASA and the Bell System. Satellites in geosynchronous orbit are used
mostly for long-distance service.
As a tribute to Alexander Graham Bell when he died in
1922, all the telephones stopped ringing for one full minute.
The concept of allocating telephone numbers to individual
phone lines was invented by a doctor.
When a fever epidemic hit a small town in
Massachusetts, the local doctor realized that relying on
their local telephone operators was risky - what if they all
fell sick at once? Their replacements wouldn't know the
names of the townsfolk or how to direct emergency calls. The
doctor came up with a solution - replace names with numbers,
allowing the operator to connect without needing to know the