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HomeColumns, Opinions & Misc.History of the phone, ring! Ring!

History of the phone, ring! Ring!

Comfy Chair

I sat down to relax in my “Comfy Chair” and was just drifting off when I heard my cell phone begin to ring in the background. I have selected a friendly tone; it sounds a bit like “Angel Wings” to me. I thought about answering it, but I was so close to REM sleep I wasn’t sure I could reach it in time. If it’s essential, they will leave a message.

I began to relax, and the phone went to voicemail. As sleep washed over me, I began to think of all of the phones I knew about and many I have personally used.

For younger readers, the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell. When activated with electric current, a bell on the apparatus people used to talk on, began to ring. There was just one ringtone back then.

The original phone had a hand crank on it; you would pick up the hearing piece attached to a wire, hold it to your ear and crank the handle that would send a signal to the operator. The operator would then plug into the phone bank and greet you, asking who you wanted to talk with. You spoke into a horn-shaped attachment. You asked the operator to connect you to the person or extension you wanted. The original phones had no numbers, and you could not dial them, imagine that.

Phones for many years were called a “party line.” There was no party, just many people “networking online,” so to speak. Sometimes there would be arguments when one person or “party” would not relinquish the phone line, except in case of an emergency. There were a lot of emergencies in those days.

From there, many types of phones were developed, but all of them were connected to wires and were attached to a wall. There were many advances, a phone that sat on a table instead of the wall; imagine that.

The first phone I remember in my home was black and attached to the wall. It had a rotary dial on it. If you dialed really fast, you could catch your finger in it, and it would pinch. We had that phone for decades if I remember correctly.

Then one day, mom added a phone line in her bedroom and a new wall phone. No more rotary; you just pushed the buttons!

If you did not answer the phone when the loud bell rang, you never knew who called. There was no caller ID back in those days and no voicemail either. We lived with party lines for quite a long time, it cost too much for a private line. But eventually my Dad gave in, and we enjoyed our private connection.

It was a long time before an analog wireless phone hit the market. The phone had a large grey or black bag attached to the cigarette lighter in your car, or you could plug it into the electric wall socket at home. Next came the battery phone. They were so large that you needed two hands to hold them; you occasionally see them in old movies. These models were large!

Compare that to today, and the phones with more technology than the computers we used to land the first man on the moon. Today there are many choices of phones. Each year new models are launched with a lot of hoopla and fanfare!

And all of the apps we have. There are weather apps, music apps, calculators, and so on! We now have voice calling, texting, emailing, and more rams than a herd of mountain goats. The wonders of all technological advancements: Many people run their entire companies off their cell phones!

The good news is that you can electronically order a “Large double pepperoni pizza” without any human-to-human communication. Is that a good thing?

“Remember, every day is a gift! Some are just a little more fun to open than others. – © Joel M. Vernier 10/9/2022 Author of: “The Guinea Pig In The Freezer.” joelmvernier@aol.com

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