Telephones are everywhere nowadays. There’s even a chance that you’re reading this article on your phone. What started as a simple device to facilitate easier communication has become something so advanced, our ancestors wouldn’t recognize the phones we have now! But for something you use everyday, there are still facts about the telephone that you might not know. Here are twelve fun telephone facts!
1. People Still Use Payphones
It might sound surprising, but payphones are still around – and people still use them! Their number is slowly dwindling, though. It is estimated that there are about 100,000 of them still existing in the US. Quite a drop, especially when you consider more than two million payphones in the 1990s.
2. “Hello” Came Later On
Hello is the common greeting we use when picking up the phone, but it wasn’t always that way. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, suggested using “ahoy” when answering the phone. It was actually Thomas Edison who suggested using “hello.” These truths may sound simple, but they still count as a worthy element on telephone invention facts.
3. Alexander Graham Bell Didn’t Invent It First
Bell gets credit for inventing the phone when, in fact, there were many pioneers before Bell’s model. Antonio Meucci is often credited as creating a prototype of the telephone with his teletrofono. Unlike the modern phone that converts sounds into electrical signals, Meucci’s prototype didn’t work as well as later versions. The first telephone by Alexander Graham Bell worked through the sound transmission. This sound is then converted into an electric signal, which allowed it to travel for a distance.
4. The Word “Telephone” Was Used Before The Telephone Existed
The term actually predated the device as we know it. The word “telephone” was first used in 1828 by a man named Francois Sudre to describe his invention, which was a musical signaling device. Later on, the term was also applied to the phone as we know it.
5. Before the Telephone Was The Telegraph
The telegraph is widely considered to be a forerunner of the modern telephone. It was a machine used to transmit written messages over long distances. Inventors who were inspired by the telegraph sought to create a version that could send voice over long-distances, and thus, the telephone was born.
6. A Wireless Telephone Was Invented in 1800
Here’s another fun telephone fact! Bell filed a patent for a wireless telephone in the 1800s. However, it didn’t look like any of our wireless phones. It used beams of light to transmit sound. We’re not sure how it worked exactly, but suffice to say that the idea didn’t take hold.
7. The First Mobile Phone Existed in 1983
The first mobile phone was born in 1983, and it was called the DynaTAC 8000x. It was made by Motorola and looked like other telephones from its time, except that it didn’t have wires! It took 10 hours to charge fully, and you could use it only for 30 minutes. Remember this telephone fact the next time you’re complaining about your old phone!
8. Deaf People Influenced the Invention of the Telephone
Deaf people actively inspired Bell’s work with the telephone. His wife, Mabel, was deaf, and it is said that Bell grew interested in telecommunication in an effort to help restore his wife’s hearing. Bell’s mother, Eliza, was also deaf and needed the help of a hearing trumpet.
9. There Are More Mobile Phones than People Alive
As of 2019, statistics reveal that there are around 8 billion mobile phones, compared to 7 billion people alive on earth. No wonder though – phones are becoming more and more important in our society, where you need to be connected all the time. Thus, it’s unsurprising that the demand for mobile phones has gone up.
10. Switchboards Used To Be Manned by People
Before automatic switchboards existed, phone companies had to employ switchboard operators to connect you to your calls. That means when you dial the operator on your phone back then, you would speak to a human who would then connect you to your call. Isn’t that an interesting fact about how telephones used to work?
11. Answering Machines Used to Exist
Prior to the advent of digital voicemail, you had to purchase an answering machine if you wanted people to leave a message if you missed their call. Some of them still exist today, but most are phased out due to lack of demand.
12. The First Long Distance Call
The first long-distance call was also set up by Alexander Graham Bell. It took place between Dominion Telegraph Office in Brantford and Paris in Ontario, Canada (not Paris, France!)
Isn’t it fun to know all these telephone interesting facts? There are still many things to learn about the invention and creation of the telephone. What started as a humble device has been transformed into something intricate. We can expect to see more surprising developments about the telephone in the near future.