10 Interesting Facts about the Telecom Industry
1. The soundproof booth was invented by Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, to stop his landlady from eavesdropping on his conversations.
The first prototype was built in 1877 using bed blankets wrapped around a box. Some members of the public disliked the early models because the doors would get stuck, forcing them to fight their way out.
The device was quickly cobbled together in an attempt to find the bullet lodged inside U.S. President James Garfield. It worked perfectly in tests but failed to locate the assassin’s bullet, either due to interference from metal bedsprings or because it was buried too deep inside his body.
Inventor and Draftsman, Lewis Latimer (1848-1928) collaborated with Hiram Maxim, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell. Working with Alexander Graham Bell, Latimer helped draft the patent for Bell’s design of the telephone. He also invented the carbon filament, a vital component of the light bulb and designed an early air conditioning unit.
4. The first telephone answering service started in 1923.
Hello, Inc in Virginia, US, began under the name of Mrs. Smith’s Doctors Exchange. A bedridden Margaret Redmond Smith offered to answer calls for local doctors. After her death in 1925, Margaret’s son and his wife continued to operate the company. In 1933 they expanded to include commercial customers as well as medical clientele; In 1955 the business was moved from the Smiths’ residence into downtown offices, and in the 1980s they moved to a fully computerized system.
5. The automatic switchboard was inspired by undertaker rivalry
Almon Strowger was an undertaker in Kansas City, USA, who suspected that he was losing business to a rival. The rival’s wife worked as a telephone switchboard and he thought she was diverting calls to her husband. This was Almon’s incentive to replace the human operators (who were not universally loved) with an automatic switchboard. The new system was described as “girl-less, cuss-less and wait-less.”
6. One of the first answering machines was popular with Jewish families
Willy Ma’ller who invented the automatic answering machine in 1935. It was a three-foot-tall machine popular with Orthodox Jews who were forbidden to answer the phone on the Sabbath.
7. The concept of allocating telephone numbers to individual phone lines was invented by a doctor
When a fever epidemic hit a small town in Massachusetts, the local doctor realized that relying on their local telephone operators was risky – what if they all fell sick at once? Their replacements wouldn’t know the names of the townsfolk or how to direct emergency calls. The doctor came up with a solution – replace names with numbers, allowing the operator to connect without needing to know the exact name.
8. The 555 prefix is reserved for fictional US telephone numbers only.
In the 1970s, the various American phone companies requested that TV and film producers use the 555 prefix for fictional numbers to prevent genuine numbers from being accidentally used.
9. Thousands of people around the world collect antique phones and accessories
Different types of collectible telephones include the ashtray, butterstamp, candlestick, eiffel tower, fatboy and the oilcan.
10. The ‘Special’ Nokia tone for receiving SMS text messages is Morse code for ‘SMS’
Likewise, the ‘Ascending’ tone is Morse code for ‘Connecting People,’ (Nokia’s slogan) and ‘Standard’ is Morse code for ‘M’ (Message).
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