10 Interesting Telephone Facts About Its Origins

The telephone, which was invented by Alexander Graham Bell on 1876, was one of the most important inventions of the 19th century. Today, many individuals and businesses use telephones in their everyday lives. Over these past few decades, telephone services have expanded into call centres, overseas calling, and cell phones.

In fact, the cell phone is one of the most revoluationary innovations of our lifetime. Most people have a cellphone in their pocket at all times, and they can’t even begin to imagine what their life would be like without it. Whether you use your smartphone as a personal assistant, or you are doing just fine with only a home phone, here are 14 interesting telephone facts for you.

Fact #1: Alexander Graham Bell was the first to patent the telephone

Source: Moffett Studio from Wikipedia Commons

Alexander Graham Bell is the one who is credited for the invention of the telephone, but in fact, this invention combined the work of many people. Alexander Graham Bell was, however, the first to get a patent for his invention, which he considered an “improvement in telegraphy”.

The first successful phone call was made on March 10, 1876. Alexander Graham Bell called his assistant, Thomas Watson, after he accidentally spilled some battery acid on his pants. The first message exchanged through his invention was “Mr. Watson, come here! I want you!”.

Fact #2: Early telephone users could not call anyone they wanted

Early telephones were connected to each other, and the people using them could only call a telephone that was wired directly to theirs. Later, telephones were able to connect to other telephones, thanks to an operator. The operation of connecting telephones was eventually automated.

Fact #3: The first telephone book was not even a book

The first telephone book was issued in New Haven in 1878. In fact, it was not a book, but a single sheet of paper! The telephone was still a recent invention, and it was not very common, which explains why the list of people who could be called was so short.

Fact #4: The initial telephone greeting was “ahoy!”

The initial telephone greeting was “ahoy” or “ahoy-hoy”, according to the preference of Alexander Graham Bell. The first use of “hello” as a telephone greeting, which is still being used by most people today, was credited to Thomas Edison.

Fact #5: The prefix 555 is for fictional phone numbers

One of the least known telephone facts involves the number 555. The prefix 555 is mostly used for fictional numbers that appear in North American books, movies, and tv shows. This prevents curious people from bothering others by calling numbers they see in works of fiction, since these numbers don’t belong to anyone.

Fact #6: The first mobile phone was invented in 1973

Before the invention of mobile phones, two way radios allowed vehicle drivers to communicate. The very first mobile phone, invented in 1946, weighed almost 80 pounds, but the first hand held mobile phone was developed in 1973. Martin Cooper, the man leading the team who invented it, was the first one to make a call.

The first mobile phones were not cellular, which means that transmission towers were limited and that users had to stay in the transmission area if they didn’t want their calls to be cut. Cellular technology was invented in 1983, with many small transmission towers replacing the large ones.

Fact #7: Cellphone towers and antennas are well hidden

Since several towers and antennas are necessary for our cellphones to work properly, engineers have found different ways to hide them. They can be installed into telephone poles, on the roofs of churches, and behind the faces of clocks so they can blend in.

Fact #8: Phone booths are still being used by a lot of people

Even though most people now own a cellphone, it’s estimated that 5% of people are using a phone booth or a pay phone at least once a year. Despite the fact that most phone booths and pay phones have been removed, they are still useful for people who don’t have cellphones, or in case of an emergency.

Fact #9: Many people drop their phones in the toilet

This is one of the funnier telephone facts, but did you know that a lot of people drop their phones in the toilet? It’s true! Almost half of the cellphones who have been damaged by water have actually been dropped in the toilet. Cellphone owners who like using their phones while they are in the bathroom should try to be more careful!

Speaking of toilets, it’s estimated that cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats. Our cellphones are always in contact with our hands and our faces, and most of us never really think about cleaning them, which explains why they are covered with germs.

Fact #10: Nomophobia is “no-mobile-phone phobia”

Nomophobia is the term that has been proposed to describe the fear of not being able to use a mobile phone. Indeed, a lot of cellphone users are anxious about losing their phone or running out of battery.

Apart from nomophobia, it’s possible to suffer from telephonophobia, which is the fear of receiving or making a phone call, or frigensophobia, which is the fear that using a cellphone will cause brain damage. Ringxiety, on the other hand, is imagining your phone is ringing when it’s not.

Ronald Ryan

I'm a self-proclaimed science geek and all-around nerd. Useless fun trivia seems to be my forte. If you ever need to hear a good dad joke, I'm your guy!

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