Tag: history

The smartphones we possess today have come a long way from the first rendition of the telephone back in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell invented and patented the first short-range phone. But like people, phones have evolved throughout history to cater to our lifestyles and needs.

Here’s a look at how telephones have transformed over the years…

Short-Range Phone: Despite a number of individuals from around the world who’ve contributed to the invention of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell was the first to receive a patent for his short-range phone in 1876. Testing out the phone in his Boston laboratory, he rang his assistant Thomas Watson, and become well known-for saying, “Mr. Watson, come here – I want to see you.”

Candlestick Phone: The candlestick phone became popular in the 1890s through the 1930s. Separated by two pieces, it featured a mouth piece (transmitter) mounted at the top of the stand, and a receiver (ear phone) that the user would hold to their ear during a call.

Rotary Phone: Pushing out the candlestick phone, the rotary phone came about in the 1930s when manufacturers began to combine the mouth piece and receiver of the candlestick phones into a single unit. When dialing a rotary phone, what originally started as lugs, but evolved into holes, one would then rotate the dial to the number that they wanted and then would release the dial.

Touch-Dial Phone: On November 18, 1963, the Bell System unveiled the first electronic touch-dial phone system with touch-tone dialing. It would become the worldwide standard for telecommunication signaling. Using audible tones for each of the digits on the push-button keypad, specific frequencies were designated to each row and column. The tones helped the switching center determine which key was pressed.

First Mobile Phone: On April 3, 1973, Motorola researcher and executive, Martin Cooper, made the first mobile telephone from handheld subscriber equipment. Weighing in at 2.4 lbs and measuring at 228.6 x 127 x 44.4mm, Cooper was said to have called a rival telecommunications company and let them know he was talking to them on a mobile phone. The prototype was able to give a caller 30 minutes of talk-time and took about 10 hours to charge.

Cordless Phone: Cordless phones became a hot commodity in the 1980s but was originally invented by a female Jazz musician named Teri Pall in 1965. The handset cord of the telephone was replaced with a radio link. However, Teri’s invention would not hit the consumer market until a decade and a half later.

First Portable Phone: Even though Martin Cooper invented the first mobile phone, the first portable mobile phone was the MicroTAC which was introduced in 1989 as “an innovative new “flip” design”, where the “mouthpiece” folded over the keypad, although the “mouthpiece” was actually located in the base of the phone, along with the ringer. Up until its release, most cellular phones were installed as car phones due to the inability to fit them into a jacket pocket.

Nokia: Through the mid-90s and into the early 2000s, Nokia mobile phones catered to consumers, with interchangeable faceplates, customizable designs, the first WAP browser, internal antenna, T9 Text messaging, and eventually an LCD screen and internet connectivity.

First Camera Phone (Sanyo SCP-5300): Possessing the first camera phone, the U.S. finally adopted the Japanese trend in November 2002. The clunky clamshell design could capture photos at 640×480 pixels and had a basic flash, white balance control, self-timer, digital zoom, and various filters (sepia, black and white, and negative colors.)

Crack-Berry (BlackBerry): Blackberry made waves with their popular RIM communication device in 2003 which possessed a phone, PDA, and e-mail system all in one hand-held phone. The term crack-berry came about when users constantly checked their e-mail and sent short messages through their device.

Sleek Mobile Design (Motorola Razr): First developed in 2003, the Motorola Razr hit it big when it was marketed as a fashion phone due to its sleek and thin profile. Over its four-year run, they sold over a 130 million phones and were named the best-selling clamshell phone in history.

Smartphones: Dating back as far as 1997, it wasn’t until Japan became the first mobile market to popularize the smartphone in 1999. As BlackBerry, Palm, HTC, Windows Mobile, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola made a name for themselves in the early 2000s, their smartphones had the capability to email, fax, and search the internet. As the smartphone craze escalated, cell phone manufacturers tested a number of functionalities that would help them capitalize on the new trend. From sliding, flipping, rotating, vertical, and even multiple keyboards, touchscreen smartphones made their way into the market which also introduce the stylus. However, the functionality these phones offered were still targeting more business users versus consumers.

Cue in iPhone 3G. The first of its kind, the original iPhone was the first touch-screen smartphone that was unveiled in June 2007. Apple’s take on the smartphone combines “multimedia functions with the same email and Web browsing features as all other smartphones previously had. It had a large color display with a capacitive digitizer, and its user interface was finally finger-friendly. And unlike phones before it, the iPhone had only one button on its face – the Home button – and three around its edges, two for volume up/down and one for power/standby.” reports the “The Evolution of the Smartphone” from PocketNow.

Today, iPhone has paved the way for a number of other cell phone manufacturers to create their own version of the smartphones we love today. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg on how phones have evolved over history, but it’s apparent that as phones change, engineers will cater to the needs of consumers. What do you think the evolution of phones will come up with next?

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Do you ever think about what you’d do without caller ID? I do. I’d burn the tread on so many “Is your refrigerator running” classics, it’d go out of style (and don’t even try to tell me it’s already out of style). They’d call me “The Prankster” and no one would know it was me. Ah, the days of anonymity.

Admittedly, we all take caller ID for granted these days, but in reality, people have been using different forms of “identification” throughout the ages.

Talking Drums

Thanks to messages relayed by talking drums, African tribes knew of European explorers’ arrival in a new village or area before they even arrived (much to the chagrin of the explorers, I’m sure). At the time, they learned that information could be carried by drum for up to 100 miles.

Smoke Signals

LOTR Gondor

Speaking of communications that can travel for hundreds of miles… remember that stellar scene in LOTR where the Rohan army was signaled to help aid Gondor in battle? From soldiers in Ancient China to Native Americans to Australian Aborigines and even the Vatican, people have used fire and smoke signals to communicate that they have arrived in a new territory, to signal trouble or call for help, or even to signal the selection of a new Pope.


Heralds were originally officers in medieval Europe, responsible for carrying messages between commanders of opposing armies. In the 12th century, a herald formally announced tournaments (including jousting!), and the name of each competitor. It was essential for the heralds to recognize the arms of local nobles on sight, and be familiar with each family.


caller id carson

Let’s raise a glass to Downton Abbey for re-educating our generation on the in’s and out’s of butlers back in the day. You KNOW Carson would keep away any unwelcome callers.

According to Emily Post’s 1922 book of etiquette, “when a servant at a door says ‘Not at home,’ this phrase means that the lady of the house is ‘Not at home to visitors.’“ While saying “Not receiving” actually means the same thing, saying “not at home” is more polite: “Since in the former you know she is in the house but won’t see you, whereas in the latter case you have the ‘pleasant uncertainty that it is quite possible she is out’.”

Calling cards

In Victorian times, if you wanted to call a friend, your only option was to swing by their house with a calling card. Cards served a number of social purposes, with strict rules.

Generally, the bearer waited in a carriage, and had a servant deliver the calling card. It was expected that one would deliver the card to a servant and leave. The receiver of the card “returned the call” with their own card in a few days, inviting the initiator back for a visit. If the aspiring socialite received the answering card sealed in an envelope or did not receive a return card, it meant to maintain a social distance. “Oh, a sealed envelope, huh? You’re coming through loud and clear, Diane. LOUD AND CLEAR.”

Telephone operators

history caller id

As telephone networks expanded, every phone call was processed through a switchboard. Switchboards were manned 24/7. The operators knew just about everything that was happening in small communities – bet the gossip around that water cooler was *quite* juicy. It was commonplace to call the operator when trying to locate someone. Every call had a certain ring. The sound and number of rings showed who the call was for, “so after a while, everyone knew who was calling who,” said a retired operator.

Caller ID

Work on caller ID technology started in 1968 by Theodore George Paraskevakos. In 1971, “Ted” developed a transmitter and receiver, making the very first caller ID prototype. The prototypes were a hit with the telephone companies. In fact, the telephone companies originally wanted caller ID to be a pay-for-play business, charging for each call and providing the caller ID in the form of a voice announcement. Thankfully, Mr. John Harris had a better idea and promoted the idea of caller ID on a telephone set display.

In 1976, Mr. Kazuo Hashimoto, built said prototype of the set display. Between 1984-1989, depending on your location and service provider, caller ID made it into your household.

Then, in 1995, we had the first technological popularity contest: call waiting. You’re on the phone and you hear a beep. You look down at your phone display and see who’s calling. Then, you have a decision to make. Is that first call more important or are you ready to ditch that first call for the new, younger call that just came over the line? Tough decisions!

Smartphone Caller ID

With the introduction of the mobile phone, caller ID fell by the wayside for a few years until Android brought it back to life. Now, apps like Hiya tell you who’s calling. We’ve come a long way from smoke signals, number of rings, telephone operators, etc. These days, your caller ID gives you social updates, call & text blocking and even the weather from where your caller’s located. We’re practically the Jetsons.

caller id history

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1976: A gallon of gas costs $0.59. Polyester, platform shoes, and velvet blazers reign king. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak form Apple Computer Company. The Viking 1 lands safely on Mars. Jimmy Carter (D) wins the US Presidential election. And Caller ID was created.

That last one gave you goosebumps, didn’t it? I know the feeling. But let’s all contain our excitement for a moment and check out some other incredibly noteworthy accomplishments from the year of the corduroy suit.

Top Songs:

1976 TopSongs

Silly Love Songs performed by WingsDon’t Go Breaking my Heart performed by Elton John & Kiki DeeDisco Lady performed by Johnnie TaylorDecember, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) performed by Four SeasonsPlay That Funky Music performed by Wild Cherry

Top Movies

1976 movies

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976 Oscar Winner), Rocky, The Omen, Taxi Driver, All the President’s Men

Top TV Shows

1976 tv

Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Charlie’s Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, M*A*S*H

Sportsball and such

1976 sports

NBA Champions: Boston Celtics, Super Bowl Champions: Pittsburgh Steelers (the cost of a Superbowl ad in 1976 was $110,000), World Series Champions: Cincinnati Reds, Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria: Nadia Comanici (Romania) earns the first “perfect 10” in gymnastics

Fun Factoids


Stretch Armstrong was the most popular toy (and why not), IBM produced the first laser printer named the IBM 3800, VHS tapes were released, Concorde cuts transatlantic flight time to 3.5 hours


Can you dig it? This is the same year the words “Jazzercise”, “download”, and “startup” (heyO!) made it into the dictionary – this is a very big year. Pretty far out if you ask me. Now dream on, dreamers and keep on truckin’.

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