Evolution of the Telephone 1876 - 2000s

Explore and learn more about the fascinating history of the telephone, from its invention to modern-day technology.

Evolution of the Telephone 1876 - 2000s
Evolution of the Telephone 1876 - 2000s

History & Evolution of the Telephone

When was the Telephone Invented?

What is the Telephone?

A telephone is a device that allows two people at a distance to talk. Also, Telephone is a Greek word and its meaning is distant voice. Tele means distant and phone means voice.

The basic elements of a classical telephone are the microphone (transmitter) and the headset (receiver). In order to provide speech, the microphone is towards the bottom of the device, and the earphone or speaker part is located at the top of the device. Also, another element is the keypad. The keypad is used to dial the number using the keypad.

A classical telephone works in that the transmitter converts voice waves into electrical signals that are sent to the receiving telephone via a telephone network. Then converts the signals into audible voice at the receiver or sometimes a speaker. Thus, communication is achieved. Telephones are bidirectional devices, meaning they allow simultaneous transmission in both directions.

How to Start Evolution of the Telephone?

From past to present, the evolutiıon of the telephone has gone through many phases. Contrary to general knowledge, the idea of the telephone was first put forward by the English sage Robert Hooke in 1667 and he made the first acoustic wire telephone. Later, different prototypes were produced by many people.

In particular, there is still debate about who was the first to invent the phone. These discussions are especially about patents. Some arguments are claimed that he should have taken Antonio Meucci or Elisha Gray instead of Alexander Graham Bell. Though, Alexander Graham Bell is considered the inventor of the telephone today, as he was the first to patent the telephone in 1876. The beginning of communication by telephone Alexander Graham Bell, speaking with his assistant Thomas Watson on March 10, 1876, is considered the first telephone conversation in human history.

About Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell is an important person for the evolution of the telephone. For this reason, he ​is known as the inventor of the telephone. He made history by making the first telephone conversation in human history with Thomas Watson on March 10, 1876. If we take a closer look at his life;

  • He was born on 3 March 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • He is graduating from high school at the age of 14. Then, Bell began working with his father, who developed an “alphabet for the deaf” after studying music for a while.
  • He studied anatomy and physiology at University College, London.
  • He met Thomas Watson, a master mechanic in 1872. Then he began working on a different telegraph device and telephone with Watson’s help between 1873 and 1876.
  • On May 2, 1875, he managed to transmit a musical note with a simple telephone set up.Continuing his studies for six more months, he developed the telephone prototype he found.
  • He patented his invention of the telephone on March 7, 1876. Three days later, on March 10, 1876, he made history by making the first telephone call in human history with Thomas Watson. In this way, the most important step was in the evolution of the telephone.
  • Bell then founded the Bell Telephone Company. Commissioned the first commercial telephone exchange in the State of Connecticut.
  • He developed the gramophone in the laboratories he established with the money of the Volta Prize given by France in 1880. In addition, he provided the construction of devices such as audiometers and photophones.
  • In 1915, he opened the world’s first long-distance telephone line connecting New York to San Francisco.
  • Bell died as known the inventor of the telephone in the evolution of the telephone in 1922.


  • 1667: Robert Hooke creates an acoustic string telephone that conveys sounds over a taut extended wire by mechanical vibrations.
  • 1844: Innocenzo Manzetti first introduced the idea of ​​the electric “talking telegraph” or telephone.
  • 1849: Antonio Meucci demonstrates a communication device to individuals in Havana. It is argued that this is an electromagnetic phone, and it was claimed that electricity was transmitted to the user’s body at that time.
  • 1854: Charles Bourseul theoretically wrote and published a working telephone transmitter and receiver at L’Illustration (in Paris), but did not build a working prototype.
  • 1872: Elisha Gray founded the Western Electric Manufacturing company.
  • May 1874: Gray invented an electromagnet device to transmit musical tones. Some of their receivers use a metallic diaphragm.
  • 29 December 1874 : Gray demonstrates the musical intonation device and transmits “familiar tunes via telegraph wire” at the Presbyterian Church in Highland Park, Illinois.
  • 4 May 1875: Bell created a varying amplitude of current to use a variable resistor in a wire that conducts electric current.
  • 1 July 1875 : Bell uses a bidirectional “gallows” telephone capable of transmitting “vague but voice-like sounds” but not clear speech. Both the transmitter and receiver were the same membrane electromagnet instruments.
  • 1875 : Thomas Edison experiments with the acoustic telegraph and in November built an electro-dynamic receiver.
  • 11 February 1876: Elisha Gray invents a liquid transmitter for use with the telephone, but he did not make another.
  • 14 February 1876, is happening one of the most important days about the evolution of the telephone. First, Gray or hislawyer a patent application for the telephone with the Washington, DC Patent Office. But he did not make the necessary payment for the patent application. About 4 hours later, Bell’s lawyer a patent application to Bell’s attorney at the same patent office. But Bell’s lawyer made the payment. Then he especially demands recorded in the receipt book. About two hours later, Elisha came to pay for Gray’s patent but was not accepted. Since Gray was the first to start patent proceedings, he had the legal right to objection. However, Gray took the advice of his lawyer and he did not do. So because of his involvement with the acoustic telegraph. As a result, the patent was awarded to Bell.
  • 7 March 1876: U.S. Patent 174,465 was issued for Bell’s telephone.
  • 10 March 1876: Bell first said, “Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!” said and successfully delivered the speech. Thus, the first two-way telephone conversation took place in the evolution of the telephone.
  • 10 August 1876: Alexander Graham Bell makes the world’s first long-distance telephone call, one-way, non-reciprocal, between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, Canada, approximately 6 miles.
  • 1876: Hungarian Tivadar Puskas invented the telephone exchange switchboard (later worked with Edison).
  • 9 October 1876: Bell made the first two-way long-distance telephone call between Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts.
  • October 1876: Edison tests his first carbon microphone.
  • November 1877 : The evolution of the telephone was the first permanent telephone connection using imported Bell instruments between two businesses in Manchester, England.
  • 10 September 1879: Connolly and McTighe patented a “dial-up” telephone exchange.
  • 19 February 1880: The photophone, also called the radiophone, was jointly invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter at Bell’s Volta Laboratory. The device allowed the transmission of sound on a beam of light.
  • 1 April 1880: In the evolution of the telephone, the world’s first wireless telephone call was made with Bell and Tainter’s photophone (the distant messenger of fiber optic communication) to the window of Bell’s laboratory, 213 meters from the Franklin School in Washington DC.
  • 1 July 1881: In the evolution of the telephone, the world’s first international telephone call in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, and Calais, Maine, United States.
  • 1886: Gilliland’s Automatic switchgear entered service between Worcester and Leicester with the first operator call feature allowing one operator to operate two switchboards.
  • 1887: Tivadar Puskás introduced the multiplex switchboard, which led to the further and important development of the telephone exchange.
  • 10 March 1891: Almon Strowger patented the first Automatic telephone exchange of the Strowger switch.
  • 3 May 1892: Thomas Edison applied for a patent for the carbon microphone based on applications filed in 1877.
  • 26 February 1914: The Boston-Washington underground cable begins commercial service.
  • 25 January 1915: In the evolution of the telephone , the first transcontinental telephone call (3600 miles), Thomas Augustus Watson of San Francisco, receives a call from Alexander Graham Bell at 15 Street in New York, facilitated by a newly invented vacuum tube amplifier.
  • 7 April 1927: In the evolution of the telephone, the world’s first video phone call from Washington, D.C. to New York City by then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover via an electro-mechanical AT&T unit.
  • 1946: Bell Labs develops the germanium point-contact transistor.
  • 1947: W. Rae Young, and Douglas H. Ring, Bell Labs engineers proposed hexagonal cells for the provision of cell phone service.
  • 1948: Phil Porter, a Bell Labs engineer, suggested that base stations be at the corners of hexagons rather than centers and have directional antennas facing 3 directions.
  • 1959: Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Telephone Labs invented the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET or MOS transistor), which later led to the rapid development and wide adoption of the pulse code modulation (PCM) digital telephone.
  • 1961: Begining of the launch of keystroke service trials.
  • 1970: Amos E. Joel, Jr. of Bell Labs. invented the “call transfer” system for the “cellular mobile communication system” (patent 1972).
  • 1970: British companies Pye TMC, Marconi-Elliott, and GEC develop the digital push-button telephone based on metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) integrated circuit (IC) technology. It uses MOS memory chips to store phone numbers that can then be used for speed dialing.
  • 1971: AT&T submitted a bid for cell phone service to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • 3 April 1973: Motorola employee Martin Cooper had the first handheld cell phone call with Joel Engel, head of research at AT&T’s Bell Labs, talking about the first Motorola DynaTAC prototype.
  • 1975: Paul R. Gray and J. McCreary develop the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) MOS chip used in digital telephony.
  • 1976: Kazuo Hashimoto invented the Caller ID.
  • 1978: Bell Labs launches the first commercial cellular network trial using the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) in Chicago.
  • 1979: VoIP – NVP started working on the first versions of IP.
  • 1981: The world’s first fully automatic mobile phone system NMT is launched in Sweden and Norway.
  • 1987: ADSL was introduced.
  • 1988: First transatlantic fiber optic cable TAT-8, carrying 40,000 circuits
  • 1990: Analog AMPS was superseded by Digital AMPS.
  • 1994: The IBM Simon becomes the first smartphone on the market.

Telephone’s Today: 21st Century Developments… VoIP Technology

One of the latest in the evolution of the telephone is VoIP. VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is the sending of voice, video, or messages over IP. IP address means Internet Protocol address. It can have an IP address of a person or organization. An IP address is an address that allows all of the devices to communicate with each other on the Internet.

If you have an internet connection, you can call anyone without the need for conventional telephone service with VoIP. VoIP has another feature is that it can manage outgoing and incoming calls over existing telephone networks. Also, VoIP is a cost-effective choice nowadays. People do not need to pay additional fees for long-distance and international calls with VoIP. The only fee is for your internet access. For this reason, it is the most preferred telecommunication communication management today.

When you make a phone call using VoIP, the business phone number app or VoIP adapter takes the analog audio signal and converts it to a digital signal. This digital voice data is then sent to the business phone service provider using your internet and finally, the message is forwarded to the other person’s telephone.


If we sum up the evolution of the telephone; a telephone is a device that allows two distant people to talk. The most important step for the evolution of the telephone is the beginning of telephone communication Alexander Graham Bell, speaking with his assistant Thomas Watson on March 10, 1876, is considered the first telephone call in human history. Although there is still a lot of controversies, Bell is the owner of the phone’s patent. He is one of the first businesspeople who created the communication industry.

Today, with the evolution of the telephone, we can communicate not only by call we can use other channels. The general name for this is VoIP.VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is the sending of voice, video, or messages over IP. It can be between any devices connect to the Internet to telephone or each other two devices that have a connection to Internet.


  1. https://www.britannica.com/technology/telephone

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