Here’s a whole bunch of telephone trivia:
In Japan, Western Electric first sold equipment in 1890, then in 1899 helped form the Nippon Electric Company (NEC). This was Japan’s first joint venture with an American firm.
The use of telephone answering machines became popular in 1974.
In the first month of the Bell Telephone Company’s existence in 1877, only six telephones were sold!
On December 23, 1947, Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., held a secret demonstration of the transistor which marked the foundation of modern electronics.
In 1953, Sony Corporation obtained a transistor license from Western Electric Co. that led to its development of the world’s first commercially successful transistor radio.
In the early days of the telephone, operators would pick up a call and use the phrase, “Well, are you there?”. It wasn’t until 1895 that someone suggested answering the phone with the phrase “number please?”
Sometimes, early telephone operators would get to know their customers so well, the customers would ask for a reminder call when it was time to remove a cake from the oven, leave the phone off the hook near their sleeping child when they left the house, hoping the operator would hear any cries of distress, request a wake up call before taking a long nap.
Telephone is derived from two Greek words, tele + phone, meaning far off voice or sound.(Tele, far off + phone, voice or sound).
In Milan, Italy, when an operator dialed a wrong number, the phone company fined the operator.
Just like today’s computers, early telephones were very confusing to new users. Some became so frustrated with the new technology, they attacked the phone with an ax or ripped it out of the wall.
The first prototype of the sound-proof phone booth was built in 1877. Mr. Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s trusty assistant, used a bunch of bed blankets around a box. He created the booth to prevent his landlady from listening in on his conversations.
Some callers didn’t like using the early phone booths because the doors would get stuck, forcing users to fight their way out.
In the early 1880’s some well-to-do telephone owners started the unusual trend of paying to have a theatre employee hold a telephone receiver backstage, transmitting live plays and operas into their living rooms.
When Alexander Graham Bell died on August 4, 1922, millions of phones went dead. In Bell’s honor, all phones served by the Bell System in the USA and Canada went silent for one minute.
The first transatlantic wedding took place on December 2, 1933. The groom was in Michigan. The bride, in Sweden. The ceremony took seven minutes and cost $47.50.
In the late 30’s, a man named Abe Pickens of Cleveland, Ohio, attempted to promote world peace by placing personal calls to various country leaders. He managed to contact Mussolini, Hirohito, Franco and Hitler (Hitler, who didn’t understand English, transferred him to an aide). He spent$10,000 to “give peace a chance.”
In the Catholic church, St. Gabriel, an archangel, is the patron saint of telecommunications.