Hello? Telephones Throughout History

(Photo Source: Wired)

(Photo Source: Wired)

Jane Rizzo, Writer

The idea of a telephone was around far earlier than its invention. While Italian inventor Antonio Meucci is credited with inventing the first basic phone in 1849 and Frenchman Charles Bourseul devised a phone in 1854, Alexander Graham Bell won the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. 

Until the late 19th century, before phones, letters were the quickest way to communicate across long distances. Then, with the invention of the telegraph, messages over even greater distances were transmitted and set the groundwork for instantaneous communication.

As Bell’s research progressed, he said, “If I can get a mechanism which will make a current of electricity vary in its intensity, as the air varies in density when a sound is passing through it, I can telegraph any sound, even the sound of speech.”

Just three days after the publication of Bell’s patent, history was made.

“Mr. Watson, come here – I want to see you.”

Bell’s words to his assistant, Thomas Watson, were the first to be spoken over telephone.

Since this moment, the innovation of phones has yet to cease. With new models each year, this invention has proven one of the most influential in history. 


The first telephone contained a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter consisted of a cylinder with a covered end, a needle, and a battery. The covered end of the cylinder was attached to the needle which was connected by wire to the battery. The battery was then connected by wire to the receiver. This circuit allowed the vibrations of speech to be converted into an electrical current which traveled through the wire to the receiver. 

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, the first phones looked like this:

(Photo Source: Al Thomas)
(Photo Source: oldphoneshop.com)
(Photo Source: CBS news)


Then, phones became more prevalent in homes and offices:


(Photo Source: Ebay)
(Photo Source: Sonar)
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Soon, people looked towards convenience and accessible communication:

(Photo Source: Petrolicious)
(Photo Source: Pinterest)

Now, the cell phone has taken over…

(Photo Source: The New York Times)
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…and still maintains its reign:

(Photo Source: Stuff)
(Photo Source: Pocket-lint)
(Photo Source: BestProducts.com)