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How a Phone Call Works: Then and Now [Infographic]

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By Julie Rossman and Michael Q. Bullerdick

138 years ago—on March 10, 1876—Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words into a “tele-phone,” as it was called, to his assistant Thomas Watson, positioned at a receiver in another room. “Mr. Watson!” Bell exclaimed in staccato bursts. “Come here! I want to see you!” And for decades, telephones looked like elaborate pieces of furniture, affixed to walls and hard-wired out to the street, and up and down the blocks to local-area switchboards. If you wanted to talk on the phone, you had to go stand next to a wall.

What a difference just over a century makes! Modern smartphones still require electric power to operate, a microphone and speaker to translate voices into signals, and a ringer of some type to make your party aware you’re calling. But beyond that, virtually everything has changed. Check out this infographic showing, from a scientific and technical perspective, what happened then and what happens now, every time you make a call.

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First Phone Call

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4 comments
Caren Mendonsa
Caren Mendonsa

That's what screwed us ask up now we have smart phones...no one ever talks any more..I hate technology

Chris Tine
Chris Tine

buuuuuut, you're on your computer, right?