A Skelding Summary
It would be fair to say that patent number 174, 465 has changed a lot of lives since it was granted way back in 1876. We're talking about the electronic telephone here. In particular its inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Telephone is the compression of two ancient greek words meaning 'sound' & 'travels far'.
Bell's invention is not only commonplace now - but by using telephone lines & links computers all around the world can communicate in seconds with each other and transmit any information you could possibly think of.
What a modern telephone does is simply translate the air pressure produced by a human voice into an electric current which is passed through wires or radio waves to the receiver at the other end. Once there, the electric current is translated back into sound waves - in other words a human voice. This voice could belong to Bob Hoskins or your Great Aunt Ethel - depending on your fortune.
The phenomenal success of the telephone is shown in that by 1887 there were over 150,000 telephones in use in the United States and some 26,000 in the United Kingdom. Even BT in all their wisdom have had to re-number unexpectedly again recently - and that with all the numbers available to them to think ahead.
Over the years the distance of telephone calls increased until in1 926 by using radio transmitters, telephone calls could span the Atlantic Ocean. Transatlantic telephone cable communication ( lines laid on the ocean floor allowing better sound quality over even greater distances) was established in 1956. In 1962 Satellite Communications improved even further when the telecommunications satellite Telstar was launched into space by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) with a little help from the boys and girls in NASA. Worldwide communication was now available - and the era of the mobile phone just around the corner. But that's another story.
So the next time the phone rings while you are in the bath or watching Eastenders - try not to be too irritated - because the world you live in would be strangely different without telecommunications. And we have Bell and those who perfected patent 174,465 to thank for that.
This FAQ (frequently asked questions) is also a running Q&A (questions & Answers) so you can ask and we will answer or find out for you.
Histories of Things