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Wiring the World / THE NEW AGE OF GLOBAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS : TELEPHONE FIRSTS

July 26, 1994

First phone: On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first sentence to be transmitted over wire, at 5 Exeter Place, Boston, when he said, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." The first practical telephone was an improved version of the machine built in 1875. *

Long-distance call: In October, 1876, Boston lawyer Gardiner Hubbard, the future father-in-law of Bell and an early promoter of the phone, hooked two telephones to a telegraph wire running from Boston to the Cambridge Observatory across the Charles River. He spoke to Thomas Watson for more than three hours. *

Commercial phones: The first telephone sold by Bell was purchased by the Cambridge Board of Waterworks in May, 1877. By August there were 800 in service. The first switchboard was installed in the offices of the Holmes Burglar Alarm Co. of Boston. The first commercial phone exchange was opened in New Haven, Conn., by the District Telephone Co. on Jan. 28, 1878, with 21 subscribers. *

Operator: George W. Coy, who answered calls with shouts of "Ahoy!" *

Personal phone: The first telephone in a private home was installed April 4, 1877, in Somerville, Mass., in the home of Charles Williams Jr. Williams was also the first to manufacture Bell phones commercially. Because the first phone exchange had yet to be installed, Williams ran a line to his Boston office so that there would be someplace to call. *

Transcontinental call: The service began in January, 1915, when Alexander Graham Bell in New York called Thomas Watson in San Francisco. The call took 23 minutes to get through. *

Intercontinental service: It began Jan. 7, 1927, between New York and London. Callers were charged $75 for the first 3 minutes. *

Private communications satellites: AT&T launched Telstar in July, 1962, to relay television programs globally. In April, 1965, the Communications Satellite Corp. launched Early Bird, the first of a projected network of commercial satellites designed to provide almost unlimited global telephone and telegraph communications.

SOURCE: The First of Everything Researched by ANN GRIFFITH / Los Angeles Times

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