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– the telephone ; the ease with which we can reach anyone anywhere in the world
without even pausing for a second, is truly a work of ingenuity and so in homage of this wonderful creation, we’ll be exploring its history, the inventor(s) and its evolution.
DESCRIPTION: What is a telephone? A telephone is universally defined as a
device that converts sound vibrations into electrical signals transmits these signals to a receiver using transmission cables. and
HOW DOES IT WORK: The basic parts of any telephone are:-
1) The switch : This is used to connect the telephone to a network provider when it is removed from the hook or disconnect it from the network when it is placed back on the hook.
2) The microphone : This is the part of the telephone which when spoken into, converts sound into transmittable electric signals. 3) The speaker : This is the part of the telephone that reverts the electrical signals back to sound, enabling the receiver to hear the speaker at the other end. 4) A duplex coil: This blocks the speaker’s voice from travelling back to the speaker.
5) A bell
: This is to notify the receiver of a call coming through.
6) A dial/keypad : This is used to send a series of electronic pulses down the telephone line, then through transmission cables and onto to the network provider; a system devised to enable accurate connection. 7) A circuit board: This holds all the main electronic components.
, which is a thin metallic disc present in the microphone
of the telephone, is vibrated back and forth when sound waves passes through it. The movement of the diaphragm then exerts pressure on what is called an amplifier (e.g, carbon granules) which contracts as a result of the exerted pressure. The degree of contraction depends solely on the magnitude of the pressure coming from the diaphragm, so in other words, the louder the sound passing through the diaphragm, the greater the pressure exerted on the
amplifier. The amplifier is connected to a power source (could be a battery or a direct supply unit) which passes a voltage across it, thus causing electricity to flow through the amplifier. The greater the amplifier contraction, the lesser the electrical resistance displayed by the amplifier which in turn, causes more electricity to flow through. The electricity transmitted through the amplifier is then sent down into the telephone wire as electric signals, then through transmission cables and then finally to the receiver.
At the receiving end of the telephone, there is an electromagnet placed slightly below a diaphragm. The electric signals transmitted from the speaker, are then passed through telephone wires into the electromagnet as electric current,
thus creating a magnetic field
. This magnetic field then attracts the
diaphragm causing it to vibrate back and forth, which in turn vibrates the air directly in front of it. Since the magnitude of the magnetic field created is directly proportional to the amount of electricity flowing through the electromagnet, the sound waves produced as a result of the diaphragm vibrating the air are virtually the same with the ones spoken by the speaker. And that is the basic principle of the telephone.
INVENTOR(S) OF THE TELEPHONE: Like a lot of inventions, a series of
backdrop events had to happen before the creation of the telephone could occur, e.g the discovery of electricity, findings by great scientists on the probability of sound transmission; some of these great scientists included Charles Bourseul, Johann Phillip Reiss and Antonio Meucci. However the two major scientists attributed with creating the telephone are Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray (each working independently) and although Alexander Graham Bell was eventually awarded the patent for creating the telephone; supporters of Gray till this day, contest that fact.
Elisha Gray was a pioneer of many sorts; he was an established electrical engineer with over 70 patents to his name and although he didn’t officially graduate from any college, his curiosity in electrical appliances caused him to carry out several experiments on the topic and later build several laboratory equipment
for the Oberlin College where he taught. In the early 1870’s, he began experimenting with voice transmission using acidulated water as a transmitter. He carried out his research in secret because his financier at the time, Dr Samuel S. White, wasn’t in support of the idea and on Monday morning, February 11, 1876,
he applied for a caveat, a provisional patent telephone.
, for the creation of the
Alexander Graham Bell’s upbringing ensured that he and he alone would have discovered the process of transmitting sound over long distances. His
beloved mum slowly began to lose her hearing when he was just a little boy and at that young age, he developed a technique of communicating with her by pressing his lips to her forehead and speaking in clear, altered tones. His father, Alexander Bell Snr who was a revered elocutionist, encouraged his young son’s interest in speech and sound and would often have him as an exhibitionist for his Visible Speech demonstrations; a method, Alexander Snr, had devised for instructing deaf-mute patients on how to understand words. Alexander Graham Bell then went into full-time teaching of the deaf and later assumed the position of
Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at the Boston University School of Oratory. In time however, he gave up his flourishing teaching career in order to focus solely on his experiments in sound. He did however; take up tutoring of two young, deaf patients; Georgie Sanders and Mabel Hubbard (future Mrs Alexander Graham Bell), whose respective parents would later become his business partners and financiers . In 1874, Bell began to experiment with the possibility of converting electric currents into sound. After a scheduled visit in 1875 to his mentor and famed scientist, Joseph Henry, who greatly encouraged his idea; he set to work fervently on his idea. His business partner, Gardiner G. Hubbard, however was less than enthusiastic about the proposal and wanted Bell to devote his time to the perfecting of the telegraph which was the invention of the moment but Bell was convinced otherwise. With the enlistment of a gifted electrical engineer called Thomas Watson, he began work on the telephone without
the knowledge of his financiers. On Monday, February 14 1876, his lawyer filed for
for the creation of the telephone.
The controversy surrounding the telephone invention between Bell and Gray was that Gray, in actual fact, submitted his caveat a few hours before Bell’s application and that Bell having the unfair advantage of viewing Gray’s application, made modifications to his own application by adding Gray’s original idea of water transmission. Bell would in fact, go on to use Gray’s water transmission idea in his first demonstration of the telephone but he later gave up the concept
for a more viable option; the use of electromagnets in further developments of the device. Gray, who felt robbed of his rightful ownership of the patent, filed a lawsuit against Bell but would later drop the lawsuit when several probes into the controversy found that Gray had used Bell’s previous works as a baseline for his research.
EVOLUTION OF THE TELEPHONE: As more people began to buy into
the idea of telephones, its development grew. Both Bell and Watson continued to work tirelessly on improving the capabilities of their buzzing device but their results were marginal at best. It wasn’t until Thomas Edison invented the carbon block transmitter in 1877 that the technology behind telephones really began to take off. Bell set up a telephone company with his business partners, Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, called the Bell Telephone Company in 1877 to maintain control over the device’s use but rival companies sprung up
everywhere, notwithstanding the 17-year ownership that Bell’s patent provided. Their major competitor, Western Union, who ironically had turned down Bell’s offer to sell his patent to them, joined forces with Gray, Edison and another telephone pioneer, Amos E. Dolbear to build better telephone models.
Tivadar Puskas designed the first telephone exchange and communicated the idea to Thomas Edison, who loved the proposal. The telephone exchange consisted of plug boards handled by telephone operators; when a caller lifted the telephone from the stand, a signal lamp would go off on the plug board and the operator
would plug a headset into the caller’s jack, get the details of who they wanted to speak with and then connect the caller with the person. The connecting usually took around 14 – 20 minutes. This continued for several years until 1891 when Almon B. Strowger patented his idea of an automatic dial system which enabled the caller to dial any number they wanted. In 1900, Professor Michael I. Pupin invented the use of loading coils in transmission cables which improved the clarity of long distance calls. In 1906, Lee De Forest invented the three element tube which was acquired by Bell’s company and used as a primary component in their telephones’ amplifiers; this enabled calls to be made to even longer distances without loss of signal. In 1938, spiral cord telephone wires
were introduced into the Bell telephones thus reducing the tiresome practice of the curling and twisting of conventional flat telephone cords at the time. In July 1948, scientists from the Bell’s research and development team developed the transistor which was added to telephones for a significant boost in weal signals. As the years rolled by, more and more developments were made to the quality of service of the telephone. By 1973, the era of hand held devices were ushered in when Martin Cooper, a manager at Motorola, made the first cellular
phone call to Dr Joel S. Engel, head of AT&T’s Bell Laboratories.
HUMOUR ME!!! SUPPOSED PITCH BY ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL TO GARDINER G. HUBBARD
Alexander Graham Bell: I have an idea for a device that I believe would become the invention of the decade. Gardiner G. Hubbard: I’m listening.
Alexander Graham Bell: It will be called the telephone and with this device, people can talk to anyone in any part of the world by just talking into the device. Gardiner G. Hubbard: ALL HELL TO THE NAW!!!!
Well, we all know how this story played out so if you are presently in doubt about a creation that you’ve made or are making; think of all the great inventors before you and how they never gave up on their ideas and whenever you’re ready to showcase it to the world, SYC would love to be your platform. ONLINE SOURCES 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) Wikipedia: Biography of Alexander Graham Bell Private line: Tom Farley’s Telephone History Series Telephony Museum: History of the telephone How Stuff Works: The telephone Connected Earth: How the telephone works Wikipedia: Invention of the telephone Wikipedia: History of the telephone Wikipedia: Biography of Elisha Gray
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