As soon as humans started communicating with each other, he wished to communicate with people far away. Jungle drums, smoke signals, mirrors, semaphores and carrier pigeons were used as mode of communication at long distances for sending their message from one place to another. But there was a need of something that could send away messages fastly, accurately in a more convenient way. Real telephone was not invented till the start of electric age.
In the year 1729, English Chemist named Stephen Gray transmitted electricity over the moistened thread and brass wire around 300 feet using electrostatic generator.
In 1753, it was found by an author that the messages might be transmitted through electricity and designed a scheme that used separate wires for representation of each of the letters of alphabet.
Electrostatic generator could help in electrifying each line while attracting paper with the static charge on another end. By making a note of which all papers were attracted, one could spell the message out.
But because of the requirement of long wires for transmission, the signals were confined to few miles. Experiments were conducted in this field till 1800.
Alessandro Volta had produced battery in 1800 which was considered as a major achievement and became a source of further experimentation. And in 1820, Christian Oersted who was a Danish physicist, demonstrated the phenomenon of electromagnetism that means electric current could create a magnetic field.
It played a vital idea for developing electrical power as well as in the field of communication. But the question that was rising in his mind was that if it could create electricity. Electromagnetism principle was then fully applied in series of experiments and the results found assured new age of communication.
In 1821, Michael Faraday reversed experiment as done by Oersted. He made weak current to flow in wire that revolved around permanent magnet i.e. he created an electric generator using magnetic field as created by permanent magnets but still no success in using electromagnetism for communication purposes.
American scientist named Joseph Henry transmitted practical electrical signals for the first time in 1830. Henry presented forerunner of telegraph in one of his classroom demonstrations. He along with Samuel Morse experimented together for the development of telegraphic system.
And then in 1837 Morse invented telegraph for sending messages in some type of code over long distances, granted a patent in year 1848. A sort of Long distance communication was made possible with shared efforts of Henry and Morse’s invention. Morse was not a professional inventor in reality but he was actually a painter, encouraged by the electrical experiments to develop morse code . Eventually telegraphs became a big business and replaced the messengers, the slow paced channels of communication.
In 1831, Electrical principles were recognized for building a telephone. In 1854 Bourseul suggested that the speech could be transmitted electrically. And after long 22 years, this idea turned into reality. Development of telephone did not come up in an organized way with series of inventors working one after another to make it a reality but rather its invention was a string of disconnected events, some accidental, some factual and mostly electrical that made telephone a reality.
In 1861, Johann Philip Reis completed his earliest non- working telephone in conveying various sounds. The problem was that this device could not produce intelligent sounds. And even with dawn of 1870s, world did not have any working telephone.
A unique combination of voice and electricity led to actual invention of telephone by Graham Bell in 1876. On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell used his device for spoke out and asked to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”
This way Bell started an era of telephone with the first bi-directional transmission of the spoken word through electronic media. While Bell received the first patent for a telephone, the telephone invention seems to be complicated and inconclusive. Bell filed the application only few hours before his competitor Elisha Gray filed the notice to patent a telephone.
Bell created an operating telephone 3 weeks later using the ideas outlined in the notice of invention by Gray. But a controversy started then, Elisha Gray, Antonio Meucci of Italy, and Innocenzo Manzetti each claiming to be the phone’s true inventor.
In 1877 earliest permanent telephone wire covering distance of around 3 miles was strung. And commercial telephone services started in 1877 in U.S. In 1879, numbers were designated to telephone subscribers numbers instead of names. Dial phones came into being in 1880s. Eventually Stronger Switch took the place of operators, which received dial pulses. From telegraphs to codeless phones, telephones have definitely come a long way.
Popular from the 1890s to the 1930s, the candlestick phone was separated into two pieces. The mouth piece formed the candlestick part, and the receiver to be hold at the ear during the phone call. This style died out in the 1930s when phone manufacturers started combining the mouth piece and receiver into a single unit.
The rotary phone then became popular. The caller is required to rotate the dial to the number he wanted, and then release. This type of dialling was incredibly tedious. In 1963, AT&T introduced Touch-Tone, which allowed phones to use a keypad to dial numbers and make phone calls.
Each key would transmit a particular frequency, signaling to the telephone operator a particular number you wanted to call. Using a blue box, you could make free long-distance phone calls. In the middle of 1960s and ’70s, the rotary dial phones were completely replaced with keypad phones.
Portable, or cordless, phones were the phone equivalent of the TV remote. A person is no longer required to be physically attached to phone’s base station. Beginning in the 1980s, portable phones were like a small-scale cell phone. We can talk on our phone anywhere in the world, portable phones seem quaint. The inventions do not end here only. Portable phones were soon replaced with mobile phones, smart phones etc.