The origins of telecommunication go all the way back to the first half of the 19th century and the invention of Morse code – a system that enabled messages to be relayed over long distances via electrical signals and copper wire.
In March 1876, after patenting his invention earlier the same year, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words ever transferred using a telephone cable. From this point onwards, the number of telephone cables began to grow exponentially and soon became commonplace across much of the US and Europe.
1878 saw the first telephone operators in the world. Emma and Stella Nutt were sisters who began working at Boston Telephone Dispatch.
In 1896 the ‘candlestick’ model phones were replaced by those using a rotary dial.
In 1915, Bell made the first trans-continental telephone call, which was between New York and San Francisco.
On 7 January 1927, the first trans-Atlantic phone call was successfully placed between London and New York.
In 1947, AT&T developed and implemented the first area code system, known as the North American Numbering Plan, which allocated codes across the US and Canada.
The first car phone in Europe was introduced in 1958 in Germany and cost almost half the price of a new car!
In 1963, AT&T released the first touch-tone telephones.
In 1973, Motorola produced the first ‘portable’ mobile phone – although it weighed a whopping 1.1kg! – and the first call was made by engineer Martin Cooper. From small acorns, huge oak trees grow, with the total number of mobile phone users worldwide forecast to pass the five billion mark in 2019.
In 1989, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web whilst working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), subsequently writing the technology for the first web client and server in 1990.
In 1991, the internet became publicly available.
In 1995, VocalTec developed the first internet phone software.
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In 2003, Skype was launched, creating a global network of people using VoIP.
Over the past decade, VoIP has become the telephony of choice – both for businesses and consumers.