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Facts About The Phone

The First Phone Book Was a Single Sheet of Paper (And 4 Other Interesting Telephone Facts)

SCutler / 16 November, 2017

One of the most important inventions ever, the telephone dramatically changed the world. It fundamentally altered the way we communicate, making it easy to keep in touch with far flung friends and family – and conduct business overseas.

Here are five interesting facts about the telephone.


  1. The First Phone Book Was a Single Sheet of Paper

Issued in New Haven in 1878, the first “telephone book” consisted of a single sheet of 14cm x 21cm paper. Listing the telephone numbers for 11 private residences, three physicians, two dentists and a handful of stores and service providers, the sheet was a long way away from the huge directories we know today. Check it out.


  1. The Number of Mobiles in The World Overtook the Number of People In 2014

Earth has a population of 7.6 billion people. But, since 2014, there has officially been more mobile devices than people. You can actually see how many mobiles exist using GSMA’s real time tracker. At the time of writing, there were 8,408,470,301 mobile connections. But, by the time you read this, that number will be far higher. What number do you see? We’re curious – comment your number below this article on our Facebook page.


  1. The Very First Message Ever Sent Using a Telephone Was…

… “Watson come here, I want you!” The call was made by none other than Alexander Graham Bell himself, the inventor of the telephone. Still, genius inventor or not, some manners wouldn’t go amiss. Today the polite way to begin a call is to say “hello”. So we can let Bell off the hook a little here: the word “hello” wasn’t in general use until after the telephone was invented. That said, barking an order down the phone isn’t the most refined way to launch one of the most revolutionary inventions of all time.


  1. The Term “On Hold” Has an Unusual Origin

Old Bell is responsible for this one too. In fact, the phrase “to put someone on hold” originally referred to Mr Bell handing his phone to poor Watson to hold. Thomas A. Watson was an assistant to Bell, but quit the Bell Telephone Company at the age of 27. Possibly due to his boss’s bad manners (okay, I’m speculating here), Watson’s decision to quit was a good one. He later found success as a Shakespearean actor before setting up the Fore River Ship and Engineering Building Company, which became one of the largest shipyards in America.


  1. Texting Is the Most Widely-Used and Frequently Used App

The first working telegraph was built by the English inventor Francis Roland in 1816 – that’s 60 years before the telephone’s invention. Initially, the ability to send vocalisations was far more popular than the ability to send written words, and the telephone began to replace the telegraph. Today, we’ve come full circle, and people are choosing to send written words more than spoken ones. Ninety-seven percent of Americans send at least one text a day, and 8 trillion texts are sent each year (16 million per minute!).


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