Bell Ringers

misc 005Just for fun I thought it interesting (for lack of a more descriptive word) to display several telephone devices from different eras. Please forgive the quality of this photo, as I had a difficult time supporting the various configurations of devices and keeping the direct sunlight off of them. Hence, the glare spot. If you remember all of these telephones then you have witnessed a technological revolution in your lifetime!

I project that almost 100% of you are familiar with a Smart cell phone (even if you don’t own one), as revealed by my Samsung Galaxy III (even the name sounds futuristic). There were several variations of mobile phones before the Smart phones of today, but the bag phone was the coolest of the early mobile devises. It had power, mobility, a leather case with zipper and a rather neat looking antennae. It had decent sound quality and good range. If you owned one of these babies, you were pretty cool at the time. Plus, you dished out a lot of money for one.There were other handheld wireless phones, but they resembled WWII walkie-talkies in size and were not very powerful.

Let’s step back a few years to the rotary corded telephone which was the staple of most homes for several generations. If you are over the age of twenty then you probably had at least one of these in your house. Not only were they offered as wall phones, but as desk phones, too. These were called Princess phones…the seventies and eighties colors were similar to appliance colors. Yuck. Eventually, push button phones started replacing the rotary dial types, but there were a few die-hard fans who were content with the rotary. Hence, the yellow telephone was my stepmom’s!

A true advancement came when the corded phone progressed to a cordless phone with base receiver. They still looked similar to the smaller Princess style phones, but one could walk around the house while talking to someone. This was the precursor to the mobile phones of today as people became used to cordless devices. Many even came with belt clips and had a range of up to a hundred feet.

Now, for the oak cabinet wall phone which was common in many a home when they first appeared on the scene in America in the late 1880s. This model is a Kellogg wall phone and was quite popular through the early 1900s. One had to turn the crank several times to energize the wires which would in-turn caused the signal to transmit. Conversely, when someone called, the bell-ringer would alert the home owner. One anomaly of the early telephone transmission system had to do with Party Lines which inter-connected multiple telephones to one transmission line. Therefore, all who heard the ringer could pick up the receiver and listen in on another’s conversation…or butt-in when annoyed enough!

Alexander Graham Bell invented the first audio-recognizable telephone device in 1876. His initial objective was to enhance the capabilities of the existing telegraph system, but when he was able to discern familiar noises from his inventions his focus shifted to the telephone. He started Bell Telephone Company in 1878 (now AT&T). The first telephone lines began to be installed in 1887 and by 1915 the first transcontinental line was operational. Now, not only can we call anyone anywhere in the world (almost) we can transmit all sorts of data, watch streaming videos, and play games without having any wires connecting the phones. I wonder if Mr. Bell could conceive of such technological advancements in the 138 years since his invention. All of this technology makes me wonder what will be the form of verbal and data communication twenty-five years from now. Stick around to find out!



6 thoughts on “Bell Ringers

  1. All four of my parents made many of the phones, especially the Princess phone for bedroom night stands. They worked at Western Electric in Indianapolis. It was later bought by Lucent Technologies.

  2. Gives new meaning to the phrase, give me a call. At least we aren’t using tin cans and a string!!

    • My pleasure, Karl. I just purchased the Kellogg so I was kind of excited about it. I talked with some elders about their experience with this phone era and was intrigued by their reflections.

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