world may have been a very different place if Johann Philipp Reis never invented
the forerunner of telephone in 1861 (but well, we would’ve still had Graham
Bell). On his 150th birthday, we congratulate Reis with ten of the most curious
facts about the telephone
Reis’ music telegraph (or the Reis
Telephone) of 1861 functions basically like a telephone, with a major
exception: voice transmission was only possible for one direction at that time.
One of the first sentences transferred was: ‘The horse does not eat cucumber
2. Old Etiquette
At a time, it was considered impolite
to call someone without requesting for a prior verbal or written permission.
The only exceptions are for in case of familiar events (or perhaps very urgent
3. First postpaid telephone
The first public telephone was
installed as early as 1889 in Hartford / Connecticut in USA. The money was paid
into coin machines only after the end of the conversation.
4. Ladies do better
Why are women better telephonists?
Instead of a macho joke, we’ll give you a logical technical explanation: the
higher voices of women could be understood better from the office via the
limited frequency band.
5. Expensive number
666-6666: This is the most expensive
telephone number of the world. It was auctioned in 2006 in Qatar for an absurd
sum of 2 million euros (thankfully, for a good cause).
6. Make it short
The sign ‘Make it short’ was hung
beside almost every the public telephone in Germany between the years 1930 and
1970. This is because private connections were very few at that time, and the
certificate for local calls was introduced only in 1980.
‘Dial M for Murder’, an Alfred
Hitchcock Thriller released in 1954, had a telephone play a primary role for
the first time. ‘E.T.’ would phone home almost 28 years later. And in 2002’s
‘Phone Booth’, Colin Farrell’s character was told: ‘Stu, if you hang up, I’ll
8. The end of manual operators
An undertaker rings for the end of
manual phone exchange operators. In 1981, Almon B. Strowger invented the
‘Strowger Switch’ as he was fed-up with local phone operators. It became the
forerunner of the automatic telephone exchange system.
As cordless phones could register with
the old CT1 and CT2 mobile frequencies, they may not be used officially in
Germany since 1 January 2009. Do otherwise a fine of 1,000 Euros can be
charged. However, that radio standard can be hardly controlled in practice.
10. First mobile telephone
33 centimeter long and weighing at
800g: the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1983) was a real wrist-breaker. However, in
spite of its short call duration of an hour and high price of 3,995 US dollars,
the first mobile of the world was sold a hundred-thousand units.