Saturday, January 12, 2013


Because of my involvement with Deaf people I've been interested in Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone. He did that partly as a result of trying to create a device to help his deaf wife communicate.

By the early 1900s there were telephones all over the United States, at least in urban areas. Usually they would be on a wall in a hallway or other central part of a house.

We had a dial phone in the city where I lived as a little kid, but in the 1940s we moved to a family summer cabin in a small town. There we had to speak to the operator and tell her the number we wished to call.

Later, in another town, we again had a dial phone, but it was on a party line. We shared it with the family of my best friend and sometimes we'd agree to pick up our phones at the same time and speak to each other loudly over the dial tone. We felt so smart!

When I was in high school people could have more than one telephone in a house and some girls actually got their own princess phones so they could talk privately from their bedrooms.

Then came telephones with buttons to push instead of dials and, eventually, mobile phones that could be removed from the base and carried around in the house. I still have that kind.

Of course I also have a cell phone. Doesn't everyone? And today phones can do things Alexander Graham Bell couldn't have imagined. And they're a great help to Deaf people who can text, send messages, and even see each other using Sign Language by video.

Maybe in the future we'll be using our phones to brush our teeth and comb out hair. Anything is possible.

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