Origins of ordinary things: The telephone

In this era, it is highly inconceivable to live without a telephone. There are telephones of different shapes, sizes, makes and prices making communication easy all over the world.

In this era, it is highly inconceivable to live without a telephone. There are telephones of different shapes, sizes, makes and prices making communication easy all over the world.

Communication wasn’t always easy. There was a time before telephones when people had to use smoke signals, send messengers, write letters or make use of pigeons.

Of course, smoke could not deliver a clear enough message and there was the risk of fire. Messengers were capable of distorting the message or even encountering dangers during long distances thereby failing to deliver the message. Messages sent by use of pigeons could fall into the wrong hands.

In the 19th century, the first telephone was invented. For the longest time, it was said to have been invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1847. Bell was a professor of speech and vocal physiology at Boston University in USA. Bell is sometimes referred to as the father of the telephone.

According to reference.com a website that provides responses to questions, the first sentence transmitted on phone was, “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.”

The reason as to why Alexander Graham Bell is credited for inventing the first telephone is because it is his design that was patented. A patent is a legal action granting copyright to someone for something original. For instance, songwriters sometimes attain copyrights so that their songs are not duplicated.

There are many controversies surrounding the invention of the telephone. The controversies were so serious that they were followed with a series of articles and court cases.

For instance, according to Everyday Mysteries, a website that provides general knowledge, Bell did not come up with the idea of a telephone. That in fact, Antonio Meucci, an Italian mechanic, started developing the design in 1849. Some news sources even say that Bell stole Meucci’s idea.

It was not until June 11,2002 that Meucci’s contribution and work towards the invention of the telephone was recognized. The United States House of Representatives passed the resolution to recognize Meucci’s contribution. This is according to The Guardian, an American newspaper.

The June 11 resolution recognized Meucci as the inventor of the telephone instead of Alexander Bell. This made Meucci the father of modern communications. Of course by this time, both Bell and Meucci were already in Netherworld.

Before telephones were invented, people made use of telegrams to communicate. In fact, the idea of telephones is said not to have raised much excitement since the telegrams could deliver instance messages. Of course, telegraphs did not have the sophistication of voice messages. Telegrams also had word limit.

In East Africa, telephones were not common until 1980s. Even then, they were for the privileged few. At this point, people were still making use of letters and messengers. In the 1990s, landlines were commonly used in offices and in the homes of the affluent.

It is in the 2000s when more and people started having access to mobile telephones. Now, phones seem like a basic need without which people do not seem to know how to survive.

 

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