Watson heard…and the rest is history

Sometimes I wonder how Alexander Graham Bell would react if he was able to see what the humble beginnings of the telephone have evolved into today.

We are quickly approaching the 140th anniversary of the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. The exact date of the invention is March, 10, 1876, when Bell wrote the following results of his experiment in his notebook “I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: ‘Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.’ To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”

He later formed the Bell Telephone Company and had over 150,000 customers by 1886. You can read more about the development of telephone service and his other inventions by visiting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell

Over the years, telephones have evolved from simple devices relying on operators to connect callers to each other, to today’s telephones using VoIP (Voice over IP) technology to connect people anywhere in the world.

Those of us who are of the baby boom generation, or perhaps older, remember having rotary dial telephones. These phones were used in homes and businesses until AT&T introduced touch-tone dialing in the 1960’s. In these earlier years, most of the equipment used to provide dial tone and allow calls to be made to neighbors or the next town was mechanical. The long distance network covered the country, and the quality varied from time to time. I remember calling to Florida or California, and the background sound would change and become a little noisy.

Even after the introduction of touch-tone dialing, the rotary dial phones remained in service until the late 20th century, at which time touch-tone service became the standard, and cordless phones became popular. To provide touch-tone service, and many of the other services we take for granted today, such as caller-id, the equipment used to provide services went through many changes in technology.

We went from using first generation electronics (TTL logic for you geeks), to digital switching, and now to IP (internet protocol) switching that is being used to provide the latest services to our customers by integrating voice and data delivery, such as seen in this business phone from Polycom. I’m quite sure Mr. Bell would have a TDS managedIP phone on his desk if he were alive today.

About Rick Paine

Rick Paine is a supervisor in the TDS Customer Repair department. He has been in the phone business for 33 years and has done a wide variety of jobs, all in the technical side of the business. For over 20 years, he was a Central Office technician, who worked on the equipment that provides dial tone and routes call to and from our customers. When he started working in the phone business, it was for an independent telephone company, Arvig Telephone that was later acquired by TDS Telecom in August 1994. In the early days there were still mechanical offices in some of our exchanges, while others had some first generation electronic switching offices. During the years, he has also done inside wiring, repaired outside cable problems, worked on two-way radios and microwave systems, installed and maintained PBX’s and key systems, and a number of other tasks too numerous to detail at this time. Rick will be your resource for all things Tips and Advice in our Blog. He’s seen and done it all in the telecom business.

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