The Past 50 Years
The history of the telephone has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. When the telephone was originally invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, communication across a phone line was only achievable by short distances and was only used to transmit voice data. With today's technology, communications can span the globe and carry voice, data, and video. The earliest phone systems used rotary technology and a manual switching system requiring human intervention. It was not until the early 1950's that the Bell System widely embraced the "dial tone", which was originally invented by Siemens in 1908, and thought of it to be a good substitute for an operator's "Number please" and placed the service in all of their automatic switching centers. In 1951, AT&T introduced customer-dialing of long distance phone calls across the nation, which no longer required the assistance of an operator. 1962 witnessed the launch of the first commercial communications satellite (Telstar I), providing 240 two-way telephone circuits. In 1963, the development of the first touch-tone phone was introduced, the Western Electric 1500. In 1964, Bell System put its video telephone into commercial service, but the technology never found a place in the market. The 1970's saw a lot of improvements in the reliability and service of telephone systems. Customer dialing of international long distance calling was available. AT&T installed the world's first digital electronic toll switch, the 4ESS, in Chicago. This switch replaced the electromechanical switch and allowed for a much higher volume of calls. Many more achievements were made during the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Services such as call forwarding, 3-way calling, and voice mail systems were introduced. The cellular phone market sky rockets and has millions of subscribers today. What use to be a single phone line running between two phones, has turned into a wireless universe spanning the globe. Regulation of...
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