We are so used to having telephones, most of us never think about them. But the first sentence said on a telephone did not happen until 130 years ago. The sentence was, 'Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you'. The year was 1876.
The English word 'telephone' comes from ancient Greek. 'Tele' means 'far'. 'Phone' means 'voice'. The first real 'far voice' - a long-distance telephone call - came in 1877. By 1904, there were 3 million telephones in the United States.
Talking down wires
Original telephones carried voices over wires. The earliest telephone was invented in 1667 in England. It carried sounds by vibrations down a wire.
You can make a 'telephone' like the oldest telephone. All you need is two plastic cups (or yoghurt containers) and a piece of string.
Make a hole in the bottom of each cup. Put the string inside, hold it into place with a paper clip. When one person puts a cup to their lips and talks and the other person puts a cup to their ear, the string vibrates. You can hear the other person talking.
People in the industry call telephones that use wires 'plain old telephone service', or POTS. In the old days, when you made a call, a person had to actually plug the wire from one place to another.
The phone calls people make today have nothing to do with wires. Mobile phones - or cellular phones - are like two radios talking to each other. The first mobile phone call was made in 1974.
Telephone companies made a lot of money for a long time. They let people in different parts of the world talk to each other. The problem now is people can talk to each other using the internet.
IP phone calls - shops sell cards for them - are 'internet protocol' calls. People are talking to each other through the internet.
now do this
1 The English word for 'telephone' comes from ...
2 Old-fashioned telephone services are called ...
a. plain old telephone services
b. wireless telephone services
c. old wires telephone services
3. The first mobile phone call was made in ...
Answers on page 11 next Wednesday