In 1876, the centenary of American independence, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent for the telephone, and that device has been mixed up with our national politics ever since. The following year, Rutherford B. Hayes had one installed in the White House. (Its phone number was “1.”) Three years later, the technology came to Capitol Hill, in the form of a single phone placed in the lobby of the House of Representatives, where it was answered, increasingly often and increasingly to his inconvenience, by the House doorkeeper. More phones appeared soon afterward, but demand kept outstripping supply, until, eventually, Congress purchased a hundred-line switchboard, placed it in the Capitol Building, and, in 1898, hired a young woman named Harriott Daley to operate it.
The telephone is an all purpose tool. It is used in the home, business and in education. It is a source of entertainment and a vital resource to the illiterate as well as the academic elite. When the telephone was first introduced it could only be afforded by the rich as the materials needed for connection were very expensive (Pool, 1977). Alexander Graham's wish was to reduce the expense of materials so that the poorest man cannot afford to be without this telephone ( Pool, 1977). The telephone was promoted on the grounds that it would increase wealth, employment and improved means of communication. The invention of the telephone lead to development of city centers, office buildings and the concept of an urban worker society. It has lead to the creation and destruction of jobs. The need for positions such as messenger boys, telegraphers and, ironically, operators, became virtually unnecessary (Bauer, 1995). It has changed the pace of business and made the world smaller and more accessible to all. The telephone has provided security and helped in emergency situations . The telephone is both a conqueror and promoter of crime. Suspicious looking strangers are scared away from houses who display telephone based alarm systems and people who need help could call fire trucks, doctors or police. Conversely fraudsters could reach into our houses and pick our pockets via the phone system. The telephone also changed the way social relationship and social interaction take place. Communication over the telephone broadened the range of people one could interact with. Long distance relationships became possible. The telephone helps keep close bond with families and communities.
Greenwald, Ph.D., Gallaudet UniversityAlexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, the second of 3 children, in Edinburgh, Scotland to Melville and Eliza Bell.
Alexander Graham Bell and the Telephone
The United States has produced many inventors, but few as significant as Alexander Graham Bell. Bell's 1876 invention of the telephone revolutionized society. For the first time in history, it became possible to communicate directly and instantaneously across vast distances. A man could speak into a telephone in one place and converse with a woman miles away. Earlier in the Nineteenth Century, the telegraph had made possible a similar change in human interaction. Yet, the telegraph had never allowed for the transmission of act5ual speech. With that invention, one needed to know and understand a special code. One's words were first converted in that code, and then sent across wires in the form of coded electrical impulses; impulses that then had to be "translated" at the other end. What Alexander Graham Bell accomplished was little short of a miracle -- a method of long distance communication that anyone could use with virtually no training at all. Two individuals, out of earshot of each other, could speak as though they were standing next to one other.
As Alexander Graham Bell's telephone became widely available it brought about many unforeseen changes in the world in which we live. The telephone made it possible for a company to conduct business without all its employees beyond concentrated in one place. As well, the telephone eliminated the long delays previously demanded by the sending and receiving of written messages. Perhaps even more importantly, families and friends could keep in touch even though they might live in different parts of the country or the world. In the case of an emergency, individuals could instantly get in touch with distant authorities. A storeowner could call the police if he had been robbed. A mother could call a doctor if her child was sick. Alexander Graham Bell's invention made the world a smaller place -- the telephone brought humanity together as never before.
Bells mother was deaf, and
Bells father and grandfather, also named Alexander Bell, were elocutionists specializing in voice presentation, delivery, and other aspects of speech teaching.
"The telephone rings, it jingles our psyches, jangles our nerves. We are seduced and soothed, rattled and betrayed by it. Wherever it is-on the desk or street corner, the high seas or highway, in our bathrooms or briefcases-it has, for a machine, an allure like no other" (Gwathmey, Stern,1994). The telephone is a technology that has become an integral part of our life since it was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. The nineteenth century was era of communication revolution when many electronic communication devices were invented. Postman states that the greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the idea of invention itself (Postman, 1992, p42). The telephone has had a big impact on the world. Ong claims the telephone has brought us into the age of secondary orality (Ong, 1982, p. 133). In this paper I will examine the telephone as a communication technology and its impact on writing and society .