The Telephone, the Device That Changed the Way We Communicate

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The Telephone, the Device that Changed the Way We Communicate

Voice communication is the most commonly used way of expressing our wants, needs and thoughts. The telephone changed the way we communicate. It has been allowing people to talk in almost real time without seeing each other since its development in 1876. Until then, mail and the telegraph was the normal and only means to talk across the country. Although it was effective, those methods were all silent. Now with the telephone, you could truly convey your feelings to someone in a personal way. The other end could hear the happiness, the sadness, or the anger in your voice. Can you imagine life today without it? The telephone, which means far speaking in Greek, was developed in 1784. For years many people were working to bring this concept into reality. In March 10, 1876 a functioning model was completed by Alexander Graham Bell. “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!” (Casson, p.12) were the first words spoken by Bell to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson. Finally, after many years of working on a way to transmit the voice over wires, Bell was successful with his design and protection of his product. He even had the foresight to have the patent paper work already done days before his invention was working. The next task would be getting people to use the telephone. When the telephone was invented it wasn’t very popular. In fact people didn’t believe that it actually worked. Bell was accused of everything from being an imposter to practicing witchcraft. Bell worked hard by putting on demonstrations to display his invention. He would travel to different locations and play music over the telephone. No one at the time could fathom what the telephone could be used for besides entertainment. At this time, no practical use could be seen and investors stayed away from the telephone. “Serious businessmen did not want to invest in a “useless toy” (Novitskaya, 2004). In order to change public opinion and ensure that it could be practical, a paper was written comparing the telephone to the telegraph, which at the time was the fastest way for long haul communication. Bell hit on the flaws of the telegraph system and enhanced on the fact that the telephone was more user friendly option. The telephone displays grew and there were setup in businesses free of charge to show how convenient it could be. As the acceptance grew, the invention would face a new set of challenges. The one problem was the original design “both hands were busy”. At first, it was not considered as a serious disadvantage at those times because the novelty had not yet worn off, “the first telephone calls were so exciting that the process was self-sufficient”(Novitskaya, 2004). Despite the opposition, the invention of the phone led to the formation of the Bell Telephone Company in July 1877, which became the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, better known as AT&T. “What was being created was the country's biggest corporation and the largest, most complex machine ever devised: a nationwide telephone network.” (Telephone, 2010). The company grew rapidly. It started from the first switch board and telephone directory with about fifty names in Connecticut to spending over the United States in a few months. Like the device itself, it had some challenges and it set new trends and standards. It was trying to compete with the Western Union and the telegraph and it also had little capital and no workforce. The telephone company first hired boys to handle the patching of the calls, but decided to use women because they were cheaper and more reliable. They battled the telegraph by keeping the prices low. As the use of the phone systems grew, more people realized the convenience the phone became an essential necessity for business. The use of telephones did not happen as fast because the infrastructure to establish residential telephones didn’t exist, and it was still not fully...
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