You are here

Historic Phone Systems

From its inception in the late 1800s to today, the telephone has certainly evolved throughout the years, and as a result, it has made our world feel much smaller than it once did. The first phones were nothing like the cell phones we use today. It wasn't all that long ago that phones were used just for calling people, but now, they can be used for so much more. Cell phones now act as our digital camera as well as our personal computer. Gone are the days when people on the go could only connect with others via payphone. Soon, the days of the landline might be a thing of the past. Now, in this ever-changing world of technology, some young people know no other way of making a phone call than by using their cell phone. This raises the question: How in the world did we get to this point from the earliest days of the telephone?

Who Should Be Given Credit for Inventing the Telephone?

This article discusses the fact that although history claims the inventor of the telephone is Alexander Graham Bell, there are also two other men who made contributions to its invention.

Kids Zone - History of the Telephone

This fun little article from the Federal Communications Commission gives the history of the telephone in a fun and easy-to-understand way.

Capitol Hill's Telephonic Revolution

This historical article gives a timeline of how the telephone has been used on Capitol Hill since it was first installed in the U.S. Capitol Building in the lobby of the House of Representatives in 1880.

Antonio Meucci Revisited

This article gives credit to an Italian inventor, Antonio Meucci, for creating the telephone.

Oberlin College Archives - Elisha Gray

Oberlin College gives an account of another possible inventor of the telephone.

Telephone History

Read about the history of the telephone courtesy of Cybertelecom, a nonprofit that focuses on Internet law and policy. The article gives in-depth details about everything from the men who all played a role in the invention of the telephone to the formation of telephone unions.

Modernization on North Dakota Farms

This little snippet from the State Historical Society of North Dakota was taken from a diary entry from 1954 that gives a glimpse of what it was like to get a telephone on the farm.

1921: Senate Considers Banning Dial Phones

This account from the United States Senate tells how awkward the dial phones were at the time and how some members of the Senate wished instead to have manual phones.

History of Telecommunications Access for Individuals with Disabilities

A brief overview tells how telecommunication has been made possible with individuals with disabilities. The article discusses the barriers, legislative history, and the establishment of the telecommunications access advisory committee.

Olmstead v. United States: The Constitutional Challenges of Prohibition Enforcement

This amicus curiae brief of telephone companies was submitted to the Supreme Court in 1928 due to the concern of privacy. Telephone companies and citizens were becoming aware of the fact that anything said over the telephone could be used as a way to spy on others and obtain evidence by tapping wires on the public telephone system.

History of 911

A brief history of how the emergency phone number was recommended to be put in place in 1967 by the U.S. Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration.

Timeline of the History of the Telephone

A visual timeline of the history of the telephone starts from the 1870s and goes to the year 2000 and beyond.

The Cell Phone Timeline

This timeline of the cell phone begins all the way back in 1843, when a chemist by the name of Michael Faraday began researching the idea of space being able to conduct electricity.

Pictures of Automatic Electric Telephones

These photos show the first electric telephones starting from 1925 and go through the evolution of the rotary phone through the first push-button phones in the early 1980s.

Atlanta Telephone History

An interesting account of how telephone service started in Atlanta is divided into different parts that discuss early telephone service, dial service, expanded calling, new services, and the reorganization of modern telephone services that began in the 1980s.

The Role of Farmer Lines in the Early History of the Telephone Industry in the United States

This article talks about the advance of telephone service in rural areas and how it had to overcome companies that were monopolizing the telephone industry. At one time, Bell did not want to service rural areas due to the expense in doing so. Farmers and entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands so that they, too, could have telephone access.

A Short History of the Telephone Industry and Regulation

Telephone service, and even phones themselves, used to be the sole domain of one company. This page discusses how the regulation of the telephone industry by the Federal Communications Commission began in 1913. It also discusses monopolization of the telephone industry and how privatization began.

Chronicles of Oklahoma - Early Telephone History of Oklahoma

This article discusses the history of the telephone in the state of Oklahoma and how three particular businessmen from Oklahoma made the way for telephone access in the state.

Magnet Lab - Bell Telephone

An account of Alexander Graham Bell's early days in trying to invent the telephone tells how he struggled with its development due to his lack of background in electricity. Once he succeeded, he first tried to sell his invention to Western Union for $100,000, but he was turned down.

PBS American Experience: Photos of Telephones Through the Years

This pictorial timeline shows photos of the telephone from its earliest days in 1877 to the cordless phone in 1992.

The Evolution of Telephones

Another great pictorial timeline includes 41 photos of telephones. The very first photo is of the liquid transmitter in 1876. The timeline takes viewers through pictures of the first rotary phone in the 1940s to the very first mobile phones of the 1980s and ends with a Windows smartphone.

The History of Communication Technology

This outline gives a brief history of communication technology and discusses how Bell's invention of the telephone was an accidental discovery he made while trying to improve the telegraph. It goes on to discuss the beginnings of the satellite phone and the cell phone.

The Incredible 70-Year Evolution of the Cell Phone

Read about how the technology of cell phones actually first started back in 1938 with the advance of the first portable AM radios, or "walkie talkies," as they were called.

A Mobile Phone from 1922? Not Quite

This article reviews a movie from 1922 in which women in the movie were thought to have been talking on the first-ever wireless phone. The article debunks the myth by stating that it was actually a crystal radio, which was used back in the early 1900s.

Great Achievements

A timeline of the advance of the telephone runs from its invention being lauded as one of the greatest achievements ever to the invention of another technological triumph, the cell phone.

Five Major Moments in Cell Phone History

Read about five key moments in cell phone history, including the world's first-ever public call with a mobile phone and the launch of the iPhone.

The Evolution of the Mobile Phone

This article looks at how the mobile phone evolved from the first mobile phone call ever, which took 10 hours of battery-charging for 30 minutes of talk time, to the phone becoming a mini-computer we can carry around in our pockets.

As Pay Phones Vanish, So Does Lifeline for Many

This article discusses how the pay phone is now nearly extinct and the implications of having just a cell phone as a means to communicate.

Payphone Nostalgia - History of the Pay Phone

A brief history of the pay phone goes from its invention to 1889 to Bell South's announcement that it was getting out of the pay phone business in 2001.

Old-Fashioned Telephone Booths Are Quickly Becoming Obsolete

A news article on the demise of the telephone booth talks about the numbers in the decline of the booths. In 1902, the United States had 81,000 pay telephones, and in 2001, the average number of calls made on these telephones was down to 500.

How to Break Up with Your Landline

This Forbes Magazine article discusses how landlines are becoming obsolete in the business world as new technology such as VoIP and Google Voice begin to take over.

When the Landline is a Lifeline

An article from The New York Times discusses how the advance of cell phone technology is quickly making landlines disappear and the implications of that change.

40 Years of the Cell Phone in Photos

See in pictures how the cell phone evolved from being a cumbersome, clunky device to which very few people had access to being a device that could be carried in more than 7 million cell phone users' pockets.

From Brick Phones to Pocket Computers in 40 Years

Another photo timeline shows the evolution of the cell phone.

The First Telephone Call

Have you ever wondered what was said on the very first telephone call on March 10, 1876? Read about it here.

Satellite History

A brief satellite communication history includes the assistance of Bell Telephone Laboratories.

A Visual History of the Telephone

A CNN photo gallery looks at all of the different types of phones that have existed, including rotary phones, early push-button phones, and smartphones.

The Impact of the Telephone

From the Learn North Carolina website, this article gives a brief account of how those in North Carolina were affected by the invention of the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell's Path to the Telephone

A detailed account discusses what was involved in the invention of the telephone.