There have been some dramatic changes since Alexander Graham Bell made the world’s first telephone call in 1876, and for the most part those changes have been quite successful.
Here Starts at 60 looks back at just how our telephones have advanced over the years.
Bell was the first to receive a patent for his phone, but as to the origin of the telephone the details are a little muddy. Elisha Gray, Antonio Meucci and Innocenzo Manzetti have each claimed to be the original inventor of the telephone.
Between the 1890s and the 1930s the candlestick phone was incredibly popular. You used the candlestick part as the mouth piece and the receiver was a small, cone-shaped like piece that was placed by your ear as you made a phone call.
After the candlestick the rotary phone became popular. You would dial by rotating the dial at the number you wanted and then release it. When the dial returned to its original position you could dial the next number in the order until all the numbers had been dialled. Talk about laborious.
The push button
When the push button phone was introduced in the ’60s it was a relief for everyone’s index finger, which was no doubt suffering a bit of repetitive strain from all the rotary dialling. The keypad used to dial numbers and make phone calls was quite clever as each key would transmit on a different frequency allowing the telephone operator to decipher what number you wanted to call.
The answering machine
A revolutionary invention for the way in which you communicated because callers were able to leave a message if you happened to be away from the phone. The original answering machines required you to use cassette tapes to record messages, but in recent years digital machines have replaced the tapes (that’s if you still have a machine at home).
The cordless phone
How incredible was the introduction of the cordless phone (also known as a ‘portable’) in the ’80s? No more were you physically connected to the telephone’s base station, you could walk around the house talking endlessly… Or at least until the battery ran out. Arguably this was the first mobile phone. Notoriously you would forget when you last placed the phone and would spend more hours looking for it than actually using it.
The Motorola DynaTAC
This beauty was officially the first commercially available mobile phone, released in 1984. At the time it had a whopping 30 minutes of talk time and would set you back a cool $3,995. What a brick!
Motorola also brought you the first flip phone in about 1996. It was known as the StarTAC.
Improving on the Motorola design, Nokia introduced its classic 5110. It was tough, it had customisable face plates and looked stylish (for the time) and it had a long battery life, but more importantly it gave you the opportunity to play games. Okay, one game… Snake!
There have been many models and designs in the last 30 years, all changing to embrace the developments in technology.
However, when Canadian-based company BlackBerry (formerly known as Research in Motion) came on the scene in the 2000s it was to revolutionise the way you used telephones. Once just a simple tool to make phone calls, the BlackBerry had e-mail, messenger, and a QWERTY keyboard. It was the perfect phone for people on the go and especially office workers and business people.
More recently there has been Apple’s iPhone in its various forms, followed by the Android barrage (think Samsung, HTC et. al.), and Windows phones all with touchscreen technology and an extensive array of features and apps.