Skip to main content

Telephone

President Cleveland had a reputation for honesty, but when his Department of Justice brought suit to nullify the Bell telephone patents, it was discovered that the action could have made his attorney general a multi-millionaire. Read more >>

The idea is 70 years old, but it took decades to make it possible and decades more to make it commonplace

America’s first female soldiers were Signal Corps telephone operators making sure critical messages got through, often while threatened by artillery fire.

The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers, by Elizabeth Cobbs Read more >>

Alexander Graham Bell was able to invent the telephone after Watson tweaked a reed that transmitted sounds to the next room

On a hot day in June 1875, 28-year-old Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant, Thomas Watson, were toiling in adjacent workshops at 109 Court Street in Boston. Read more >>
In his new book, The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret (Norton, 256 pages, $24.95), Seth Shulman states that the famous inventor “was plagued by a secret: he stole the key idea behind the invention of the telephone.” Read more >>

The urge to move documents as fast as possible has always been a national pre-occupation, because it has always been a necessity. Fax and Federal Express are just the latest among many innovations for getting the message across.

Reaching out and touching someone hasn’t always been easy—especially if it was necessary to hand that person something in the process. Read more >>

The story of AT&T from its origins in Bell’s first local call to last year’s divestiture. Hail and good-bye.

The history of telephone communications in the United States is also, in large measure, the history of an extraordinary business organization. Read more >>
Late in 1876, William Orton, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, rejected an opportunity to purchase from Alexander Graham Bell and his associates all patents relating to Bell’s telephone for $100,000. Read more >>

"My God, it talks!” said the Emperor of Brazil. So the new invention did—but not until Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant had solved some brain racking problems

On the afternoon of June 2, 1875, two young men bent over work benches in the hot and stifling garret of a five-story brick building occupied by the electrical workshops of Charles Williams, at 109 Court Street, Boston. Read more >>

The powerful Speaker of the House missed not one but two chances to invest in AT&T in the early days

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate