The Evolution of the Telephone - Part 1

It’s not surprising that nowadays there are more phones in the world than thereare humans. We take for granted the ease of picking up the phone and speaking to someone or picking up your mobile to use it for something completely different, like taking a photo or Googling something.

When the idea of communication via a transmitter came about it was 1667 and Englishman Robert Hooke began to look into the vibrations and nodal patterns, or visible sounds, created when plucking a bow or taut wire. It wasn't until nearly 200 years later that the suggestion of using an electric telegraph to convey speech came about from lnnocenzo Manzetti. He didn't pursue his idea for another 21 years and did not seek a patent.

Leading up to 1875 there were several breakthroughs and progress was steadily being made to construct  a phone which could clearly transmit sound, speech and music. Notably Charles Bourseul's illustration of a telephone transmitter and Johann Reis's creation of the Reis Telephone in 1861, inspired by Bourseul's idea. His phone was used to capture sound and then transmit this sound via electrical wires, he was the first to coin the term telephone.

There's much debate about what the first words spoken over a telephone were, mainly because of the debate of who invented the first actual phone. During Reis's testing he apparently transmitted the difficult German phrase 'The horse does not eat cucumber salad' to prove that he could coherently transmit speech.

In 1873 Thomas Edison creates a telephone for transmitting, he acknowledges that Reis was the first inventor of the telephone, yet for musical transmissions rather than having the ability to transmit speech. Edison credits the most high profile inventor of the phone, Alexander Graham Bell, as creating the first phone for transmission of articulate speech. Bell created the Gallows phone with his partner Thomas Watson in 1876, with the intention of creating a phone which could transmit and receive. This phone never actually transmitted speech, rather beeps, yet three days later on March 10th 1876 they made history. Using a liquid based device and a vibrating needle which caused electrical currents to change and transmit sound, Bell spoke over the phone to Watson, who was in the other  room with a duplicate device;

Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you.

This crucial breakthrough in the invention of the telephone was about to start many developments, and Bell was granted a patent for his invention of the telephone on March 7th 1876.