Archive Gallery: The Telephone

Coiling cords, cellular phones, and the rest of the history of talking to each other at a distance

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Without question, Alexander Graham Bell’s master invention changed our lives and revolutionized the way we communicate. But science is never satisfied, and so we began a steady stream of improvements to the telephone that took it from rotary dials and operators to the unique problems of autocorrect and Siri’s witty retorts. Today, we take a look back at the ever-evolving history of the telephone.

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First we coiled the cord, keeping it from tangling up our important papers, then we learned to keep our babies from teething on it, and then we removed it entirely. We created area codes so that we could make long distance calls without relying on operators and we replaced the rotary dial with buttons to make the process even faster. Some innovations didn’t catch on, like the picturephone, and some, like the carphone, just needed a little time to reach their full potential. Learn about all these and more in our archive gallery.