Telephone History

Incredible developments in telephone history have taken place over the past century of a half, perhaps most notably that they no longer need to be physically connected to anything. This is the most famous: 1876: On March 10 of this year, Alexander Graham Bell utters the famous words, „Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.“ That was the first statement that was ever said over a telephone.

Pre-Bell’s Invention

However, a few events took place prior to 1876 that set the stage Bell’s famous achievement.

  • 1672

    Robert Hooke discovered that sound could travel over a wire or string, similar to what many children would later play with: two soup cans connected by a wire. Although his discovery was related to music traveling that distance, voices could do so as well.

  • 1838

    Morse code is discovered by Samuel B. Morse. He learned that pressing and releasing a button could transmit a pattern of sounds, which he developed into a special code. This would allow messages to be transmitted essentially instantaneously across great distances and setting the stage for telephone use to be later utilized in a similar manner.

  • 1858

    Morse code becomes an especially promising way to communicate in this year, which is when transatlantic telephone cables are laid from England to the United States.

  • 1915

    Thirty-nine years after his famous invention, Bell engaged in the first coast-to-coast phone call, essentially the first long distance call. It was done over a 3,400-mile wire from New York to San Francisco. Like in 1876, he spoke with Thomas Watson.

  • 1927

    The initial telephone service from the United Kingdom to the U.S. is set up.

  • 1934

    Americans can start talking to those in Japan.

  • 1946

    A car phone is used for the first time. Originally, the equipment weighed 80 pounds. Over the coming decades, car phones started being used more and more although not extensively.

  • 1947

    The first sign of smartphones takes place as a transistor is invented. This provides a way for computers and electronics to merge.

  • 1949

    The model 500 telephone series provides a handset and ringer combined in the same device for the first time. These phones have proven to be so durable that some still use them today.

  • 1963

    Touch-tone phones are used for the first time.

  • 1973

    A cellular phone – i.e. a phone that is not associated with a vehicle – is used for the first time. However, it should be noted that this device took a year to recharge after only being used for half an hour.

  • 1983

    The first DynaTAC phone is approved for the market. Its cost, in today’s dollars, neared $10,000 apiece. It offered one hour of talking to go with 10 hours of charging time while weighing 2 pounds.

  • 1989

    Just six years later, the MicroTAC is released, a much lighter phone than the DynaTAC. It weighed just 12 ounces.

  • 1992

    Text messaging is invented when Neil Papworth sends one from his computer to a mobile device. The message, which was sent on Dec. 3 of that year, read, „Merry Christmas.“

  • 1993

    Smartphones are now publicly available. Simon, one created by IBM, includes a touch screen. However, the term, „smartphone,“ was not used until two years later.

  • 1998

    Satellite phones are now a part of the market after Iridium puts 64 satellites into place. The modern smartphone would result from this historic moment.

  • 2003

    Phones are no longer necessary for calls once technology is developed to allow them to take place over the internet. Most notably, this eliminated or greatly reduced long-distance charges.

  • 2008

    The prevalence of apps on smartphones starts taking off in July of this year, after the Apple app store was launched with 500 to choose from. In the first weekend following this development, 10 million were downloaded.

  • 2010

    Data speeds continue to quicken after 4G handsets start being sold in this year.

Today, cell phones are utilized for so much more than making calls as they can be used for text messaging, surfing the internet, buying plane tickets, looking up sports scores and checking social media accounts.