Imagine a time when you couldn’t just pick up the phone and, after dialing a short sequence of numbers, reach the person you were hoping to speak to there on the other end of the line, regardless of how far away they might be. While we have certainly become a texting and emailing society, anyone born before the 1990s will well remember a youth full of party lines and hours-long conversations. Many, perhaps, even still prefer picking up the telephone to communicate with those far away instead of more recent forms of communication. But what if you couldn’t even do that?
The telephone has been around, albeit in a slightly different form, since the late 1800s. The technology required to make such a thing possible was in the works by several scientists for years prior, but it was not until March 10, 1876 that inventor Alexander Graham Bell was able to pick up a telephone and reach a person not in the same room with him. That person was his assistant, Thomas Watson, and the words spoken were few: “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you.”
The process which made telephone calls possible – known as acoustic telegraphy – was practiced by both bell and another inventor and electrical engineer, Elisha Gray, who many still give credit to when it comes to the breakthrough. However, it was Bell who received the first patent, and his call to Watson was made only three days after the patent was finalized.