Tag Archives: telephone

Communications


Good morning Everyone!

I finally have relented and allowed Kayla to join Facebook, with the single stipulation that I MUST approve all friends and follows before she either makes or accepts either.  Her first wave of friends includes most of our family (if there’s anyone out there I missed, it’s purely accidental and I apologize!) including my mother.

Last night, I went in Kayla’s room to check on her, and she was very proud to tell me she had just been chatting online with my mother (her Grandma Dottie.)  Kayla was happy and excited.

The conversation led me to think about communications.

Bare foot Girl

Messages By Foot
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For millenia, the only means of communication that people possessed was mouth-to-mouth.  Coupled with transportation limited to the use of the foot, it took a very long time for messages to get anywhere farther than maybe the next cave over.

Assyrian War Ship

Relief Carving of an Assyrian Battle Ship from around 800 B.C.

A few brave souls realized that you could travel to certain places quicker if you went by water.  There were unique dangers involved and the range of places you could reach by water were limited, but you could travel farther faster then on foot.

One day during those vast uncharted millennia, some enterprising soul evaluated the risks of falling off a horse trying to break it versus the rewards of being able to get a message three villages over in half the time, and the use of the horse for transportation and communication began.

Ox Cart

Ox Cart
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Another incredibly brave family apparently very fond of their possessions and wanting to move elsewhere without having to leave any behind decided to take two or four oxen and attach them to a wagon with their stuff in it.  Big animal + big horns = big problems, but someone persevered long enough to make it work.

Smack dab in the middle of antiquity, the Phoenicians, who were fantastic sailors, decided to invent the alphabet.  Before that, the Babylonians had invented a kind of picture language they inscribed on stones, and the Egyptians invented the hieroglyphics they wrote on papyrus and tomb walls, but while the Babylonians and Egyptians wrote primarily for local purposes, the Phoenicians were salesman, the tradesmen of the Mediterranean, and they need something fast, snappy, easy to adapt and relatively easy to learn.

Roman Road Algeria

Remains of a Roman Road in Algeria

So now, messages could be sent directly to someone else in a fairly far away place preserved in writing rather than dependent on memory and transmitted by ox, horse or foot power.  The Romans, believing that conquering required an excellent road system, aided this process with a series of excellent roads built throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Portions of those roads, some of them built over 2000 years ago, still exist today.

Bear in mind  that it took the world thousands of years to reach this point.  For another couple of millenia, communications’ revolutions were sedate, although people, being people, continued to make better versions of the equipage that animals could pull behind them, the ships that men could sail and the materials used to preserve and transmit messages.

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick’s “Puffing Devil” (Replica)

Then, on February 21, 1804, Richard Trevithick’s “puffing devil” steam locomotive made the first train run on a track from point b to point a.    It took  about a decade for the commercial ramifications of steam engines to come to fruition, but by 1850, there were over 9000 miles of track laid down in the United States, and over 6621 miles laid down in England.

In 1837, inventors in England and in the United States invented separate telegraph systems capable of receiving and transmitting messages across wires in mere minutes.  Communication possibilities exploded.

Bell 1880 telephone

Alexander Bell Talks on a Telephone in 1880

Until now, the driving force behind communication/transportation innovations was to improve commerce, (although train companies were quick to pick up on the possibilities of passenger service).  However, communications began its next evolution in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, that is, the first device that was capable of producing a clearly understandable reproduction of a human voice.  By the 1900’s, not only had telephones spread throughout the United States, but their main switchboard facilities had begun to become mechanized.  As part of the effort to improve telephone service, the first digital networks began to be developed starting in the 1940’s, although it wasn’t until 1978 that Motorola developed and sold the world’s first mobile phone.

In the early 1970’s, my family lived overseas in Taiwan for a couple of years.  Even then, we could not talk to people back home by telephone very much or for very long, so we would record stuff on cassette tapes and mail them back home to the states.  I was very moved when, on my grandfather’s death a couple of years ago, I came across a cassette tape he had kept from that time.

1950 Rotary Dial Phone

Rotary Dial Phone from the 1950’s

Even when we came back to the states in the mid-1970’s, people had rotary dialing, not touch tone, and the phone stayed attached to the kitchen wall because cordless phones were either not invented yet or at least not inexpensive enough for normal people.

Now, of course, we take instant communication for granted.

New Model Cell Phone

New Model Cell Phone: HTC One, M9

If I can’t remember something I needed at the grocery store, I stop in the middle of the store and call home to find out what the unknown item was.  In fact, I get miffed if I can’t reach someone right away.

Instead of having to run for the kitchen phone from remote areas of the house when the phone rings, we now get to hunt for the cordless phone all over the house because Kayla and I both seem to be constitutionally incapable of putting the darn thing back in the same place every time.

When one of my bosses went to Germany a few weeks ago, he never missed a beat back here at home.  The speed at which he could obtain his e-mails was only limited by whether they were coming in at a time of the day when he wanted to read them.

Sometimes, (read “almost always” if you are below the age of 25), we don’t even talk on the phone anymore; we text messages back and forth on our cell phones.

Many younger people are beginning to eschew home phone lines altogether, keeping only mobile phones.  I can understand that, but it just seems so unrooted not to have at least one landline connected to your place of residence.

We can chat face to face by Skype to people on the other side of the world and receive news from anywhere in minutes through signals bounced up to and down from satellites orbiting the earth.

And we take it all for granted.

Until the smile on your child’s face after talking to her grandmother lights up your world as well as her’s.

Have a great day!

Nancy

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So You Want to Make a Call….


Good morning Everyone!

 

I had to make a telephone call yesterday.  For years in our town, every phone number began with one of two prefixes – 234 or 329.  There was a time (this was true in my grandparents’ town, too) when you only had to dial five numbers to make an in-town call.  In a kind of shorthand, you either started the number with 4 or 9 and the phone brain that resides somewhere most of us never see automatically supplied the first two digits.  Long distance calls required 1, the area code and then the phone number.  Those days are long gone.

Telephone

My Grandmother’s Favorite Telephone

Today, a phone call goes more like this.

I dial:  1-205-555-5555  (FN)

Phone brain:  Screeching electronic tones, then:  (Pleasant Female Voice):  “The number you have reached is disconnected or no longer in service.  If you think you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again.”

Even though I know that this number is active and in service,  I dutifully hang up and check the number.  Some part of me knows that the Phone Brain is watching from afar, and there will be consequences if I don’t follow instructions.  Seeing that I dialed it correctly, I decide to try just the last seven numbers.

Phone Brain: (Sterner Mail Voice, but ditching the screeching electronic tones):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: Hmmmmm.

Pursuant to instructions, I then dial 1-324-4008.

Phone Brain: (Same Stern Male Voice):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: !

Successive tries with 1 still fail and I begin to call Phone Brain names that I hope my child never hears and repeats.  I finally drop the 1 and use the area code and the seven digit phone number:  205-324-4008. (Please note that this is the one instruction Phone Brain did NOT give me!)

The call finally goes through.  I think I can hear Phone Brain laughing in the background.

Telephone Switchboard

Phone Brain

I would like to add that only a Phone Brain with a wicked and twisted sense of humor would add “392” as an additional prefix in a town where “329” reigned for three decades.

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN:  The phone number has been changed to protect the innocent as well as myself, since most receptionists would deem it justifiable homicide if someone gave out a number that required them to field meaningless phone calls from people trying to see if a number works.

 

 

Talented Phones


Good morning Everyone!

old telephone

Photo Credit: Purchased from http://www.clipartonline.com

Some of you probably remember using phones where the receiver was attached to the main phone with a wire that kept you close to the phone when you were using it.  In order to figure out the range of the cord, you needed to look at the length described on the package and then mentally decrease it by 1/3 to compensate for the way even the best  phone cords tangled.

tangled telephone cord

Photo Credit: Purchased from http://www.clickartonline.com

To those of us who were slaves to the cord, the cordless phone was revolutionary! You could talk to your friends and family on a cordless phone and still move around the house!  It was astonishing.  The cordless phone allowed us to talk on the phone and still cook, dust, fold clothes, iron and let the dogs in and out of the house.  It rocked!

Today's Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

At our house, we always like to have the latest, greatest electronics (well, some of us do – for myself, I’m drawing the line at Blu-ray DVDs) so, of course, we have cordless phones. Our favorite type for the last two decades or so has been the AT&T Dect 6.0. It does everything you would expect a household cordless phone to do in the modern era – it has three handsets expandable to 12 (not that we’ll ever have or need a house that big!), takes messages, has an intercom feature and lets us have caller id and call waiting when we are willing to get off our wallets with the phone company and pay for them. They also have one other, non-advertised, talent – they are extremely gifted at camouflage. In fact, if the Russians ever invade the great state of Alabama, my three cordless handsets will be the last thing they will be able to find!

We have three people in the house, so you would think keeping track of a cordless phone would be easy – one phone, one person – but it’s not.  Take for example, this seemingly innocent couch top.

couch top

Photo Credit: Me!

Yet, upon closer inspection (usually accompanied by a fair bit of mental censorship as we hunt for the phone while its ringing), you find the following:

Cordless Phone Handset in Couch

Photo Credit: Me!

I believe that certain of the handsets have their favorite hiding spots.  I thought this one was particularly clever the other day.

For the casual observer:

cordless phone and iPad

Photo Credit: Me!

For the accomplished phone set hunter:

cordless phone and iPad

Photo Credit: Me!

Sometimes I think the poor things just get cold, and need to warm up. When that happens, their favorite room is my daughter’s room. For example, take a look at my daughter’s sheets from the other morning:

Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

A careful search (by me, not her) revealed the following:

Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

Sometimes all three handsets have decided to hide in her room!

I also think the handsets are capable of developing their chameleon-like abilities. Handset 2 had been missing for about five days, and we thought we had searched everywhere, including in this box right beside the phone.

Cordless Phone in Snack Box

Photo Credit: Me!

Today, however, I happened to drop something on the floor, and reaching down to pick it up, noticed the following:

Cordless Phone in Chip Box

Photo Credit: Me!

I can’t wait to see what they come up with next! [I think!]

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy