He invented the telephone, but would Bell have hang-ups now?

I SAW a video some time ago where two young lads were given an old telephone. The black type we all had at one time, with the receiver on the top and the circular dial on the front.

They were told to make a call, but they had no absolute clue how to operate it.

They tried dialecting with the handset still in place, then tried to talk into the handset without doing anything else, and then examined it as if it were an alien. It was hilarious.

These telecommunications have changed so much, and so quickly, that they have become unrecognisable to a new generation.

We all depend on home phones once upon a time, but not anymore. They’re old hat now.

We’ve just given up because we are just scammers looking for our money, but these pests do not have their own way either, because getting someone to answer a land-line is difficult these days.

I wonder, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, if he had any idea how he would evolve? I doubt it, because “Mr Watson, come here – I want to see you.”

It was not immediately surprising that Watson answered his call immediately. Little did he know.

If he were alive today, Mr Bell would notice some changes. Mr Watson’s office.

After dialing the number, he has had several options, before being advised that Mr Watson’s office was looking at a large volume of calls and waiting time would be estimated in hours.

I experienced this recently, when I was trying to get my Covid Booster Certificate revised. The vaccination date printed on it, and I couldn’t use the phone number listed on the website.

I dialed the number, made the necessary selections, and then waited 93 minutes before speaking to a human. A human who did nothing for me in the end, but that’s another story.

Alexander Graham Bell hadn’t bothered.

They said he would only distract him from his work. That was a time when I thought getting a phone call was a rare event, so it must have been an inkling of how invasive his machine would eventually become. He couldn’t possibly have predicted the extent though.

When I was a child, our telephone sat on a table in the hall. We picked it up when it rang or when we wanted to make a call and that was it. The rest of the time it is just sat there and minded, and I don’t ever remember sitting in front of it, because that would have been pointless.

These days, we look at our phones about 85 times a day on average. We check the time, the weather, our emails, texts, Whatsapp messages, news updates on Twitter and whatever.

That’s outside the time we spend talking on it.

I am one of the afflicted. I can’t leave home without it. In fact, I can’t move from one room to another without tapping my pocket to make sure it’s there.

My children didn’t get that much care and attention, and that’s because Mr Bell couldn’t just spend his days climbing trees and kicking a football like the other kids.

He was too inquisitive for that. He said: “The inventor looks at the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees and wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea. The spirit of invention possesses him, seeking materialization. ”

Bell, who was born in Edinburgh in 1847, was certainly determined character and made his invention work. It was worth his while too.

In 1876, Bell offered to sell the patent for his telephone to Western Union for $ 100,000. Western Union part of America’s telegraph wires at the time, but its top people. They couldn’t see it being profitable, so they turned it down.

Two years later, in 1878, Western Union’s opinion changed dramatically. They knew if they could get the patent for $ 25 million, they would have a bargain.

Unfortunately for the Western Union, the Bell Telephone Company had been launched by then. They missed the boat.

According to history.com, Bell’s interest in sound technology was deep-rooted and personal, as both his wife and mother were deaf. His father was a accomplished pianist.

Bell didn’t excel academically, but he was a problem-solver from an early age. At 16, he began studying the mechanics of speech and also learned Greek and Latin.

While living in America, he learned the Mohawk language and put it in writing for the first time. The Mohawk people made him the Honorary Chief.

When Bell was 25, he opened a school in Boston, where he taught Mabel Hubbard, a deaf student. They married in 1877 and went on to have four children, including two sons who died as infants.

Bell died almost 100 years ago, in August, 1922, at the age of 75 in Nova Scotia, Canada, and during his funeral, every phone in North America was silenced to pay tribute to the inventor. And they haven’t been quiet since.


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