World, Science-Technology

144 years pass since first words uttered on telephone

‘Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,’ said Graham Bell into his experimental telephone on March 10, 1876

Erdogan Cagatay Zontur, Emre Aytekin   | 10.03.2020
144 years pass since first words uttered on telephone


The first telephone conversation in history was made in Boston, the U.S. between the inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas Watson on March 10, 1876.

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you," said Bell into his experimental telephone to Watson who was in another room but out of earshot.

Bell developed an acoustic telegraph and drew up a patent application for it in 1875.

A year after his patent was issued, Bell managed to make his telephone functional.

Bell's invention originally had the same logic of operation as the electrical telegraph previously developed by the inventor Samuel Morse, but it aimed to transmit human voice naturally by encoding different audio frequencies as electrical signals instead of symbolic messages.

First telephone line

Bell's successful experiment initiated developments that paved the way for the practical use of the telephone. In 1877, the first telephone line was set up between Boston and Somerville, Massachusetts.

Telephone lines started to spread in the U.S. in the following years. By 1880, the number of lines of long cables carried on wooden poles reached to about 50,000 in the country.

First continental conversation

Graham Bell held the first continental telephone conversation during the Panama-Pacific International Fair held in California on January 25, 1915. When he was on the west coast of New York, Bell called his ex-assistant Watson, who was in the city of San Francisco through wired lines.

First intercontinental conversation

The first intercontinental phone call was made using radio frequencies, not the wired lines. On January 7, 1927, Evelyn Post General Manager Evelyn Murray and American Bell Telephone Company Chairman Walter S. Gifford held the first telephone conversation between London and New York.

As laying telephone cables under the ocean is extremely costly, wired phone calls were not available until the first across the ocean line was established between Ireland and Canada's Newfoundland region in 1956.

Space technology

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched Telstar 1, its first communications satellite on July 10, 1962. Telstar 1 made it possible to transfer television broadcasts and telephone conversations over satellite for the first time.

 Wireless telephones

In 1970, the first wireless telephones were due to their narrow operation frequency. In 1986, the Federal Communications Commission allocated 47 megahertz and 49 megahertz ranges for wireless telephones in the U.S., which allows the devices wider frequency and making them affordable and widespread.

However, for mobile phones to become as widespread as today, the development of cell technology, which works with signals from many sources effectively transmitted and received in the atmosphere, would have to be developed.


The cellphone technology infrastructure used to be created by a network established between three receiver-transmitter base stations in a terrestrial area. These stations provided magnetic cells to the network to provide the medium for the transmission of voice, data and other content. Each cell could transfer data using different frequencies in neighboring cells without allowing interruptions.

The cellphone network technology, developed by Bell Laboratories in the U.S. in 1947, was first introduced to commercial use in the metropolitan areas of Japan's capital Tokyo by the Japanese Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company (NTT) in 1979. This network infrastructure was expanded to cover Japan in five years and the first generation (1G) mobile communication network was established.

Analog 1G cell technology has been replaced by digital cell technology in the early 1990s. The second-generation (2G) digital mobile network was introduced for commercial use in 1991.

In 1998, NTT announced that it will launch its third-generation (3G) digital mobile communications network in Japan. 3G was publicized in the U.S. in 2002 and Europe in 2003.

The 4th and the 5th generation (4G and 5G) network technologies followed the 3G. The 4G was first used in the U.S. in 2009. The 5G, still under development, was launched in 2019.

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