10 Crucial Moments in Telecom History

When it comes to our phones, we tend to focus firmly on the future. From iPhone 6 tidbits to the next fantastic phablet, it's rare that we stop to consider telecom history and where it all came from. But we're telecommunications buffs here at RingBoost and love a good look back at our industry, almost as much as we love to apply the latest technology to get our customers more calls. So out of respect to those who have been connecting us for centuries, we present the top 10 moments in the history of telecommunications!

Old rotary dial telephone
Telecoms technology has moved on (and so have the numbers!) -- Takkk via Creative Commons


Ten Crucial Moments in Telecommunications History

1. 1876: Scottish-born American scientist Alexander Graham Bell invents and patents the first telephone at the age of 29.

2. 1889: The first coin-operated payphone is installed in Connecticut at the Hartford Bank. William Gray, another inventor with Scottish roots, goes on to drive the development of public phone use with 23 patents filed to improve upon this early model.

3. 1915: The first officially recognized coast-to-coast call is made on January 25th of this year. Alexander Graham Bell, based in New York City, again called (literally) on his colleague Thomas Watson, with whom he made the first wire call in 1876 and who received his call in San Francisco. It took 5 operators a total of 23 minutes to complete the connection.

4. 1960: Dual Tone Multi-Frequency phones, more commonly known as "Touch Toned," are first test-marketed in Findlay, Ohio. Unlike today's 12 button standard, Touch Tone telephones had 10 buttons and were first sold to the public in 1963, although traditional rotary dial telephones maintained a strong presence in American homes all the way through to the 1980s. [search-tag]

5. 1967: On May 2nd of this year, AT&T introduces the first automated toll-free number service, InWATS. It facilitated 1-800 numbers as an automated alternative to collect calls placed manually via operators, although it only worked within set areas. In 1982, the same company patented a process that routed such calls through a database, allowing 800 numbers to operate across the country.

6. 1968:  9-1-1 is selected as the country's nationwide emergency number. Major telephone companies agreed to exclude these familiar three-digits from exchange number availability, securing the slot for emergency service use. On February 16th the first 911 call was placed, although it was completely ceremonial and required no emergency response. 

7. 1983:  The first generation of cellular phone service is launched in the U.S., as Ameritech rolls out its 1G service in Chicago.More than thirty years later, mobile services have only moved on to fourth generation (4G) cell phones, though the ability of mobile devices has developed at an astonishing pace.

8. 1994: The world's first "smartphone," the IBM Simon, went on sale to the public on 16 August 1994. It's a beastly brick of a device, but has the most functionality ever seen in a mobile device at that time.

9. 2000: The trusty old landline, almost an unknown entity to today's children, peaks at around 186 million. After the turn of the century the number steadily declines,.to the point where more than two-thirds of the country now has wireless service and only around 9% of households use just a landline.

10. 2007: On January 9th, at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, Steve Jobs introduces the first generation iPhone. The product goes on to revolutionize the mobile telecommunications industry and usher in the era of the (real) smartphone.  

And now to look to the future. What do you see coming next for telecom technology?  To learn more about the systems behind custom business numbers, visit the RingBoost Blog!  

So, What Are You Waiting For? Buy Vanity Phone Numbers Today

Boost your calls and sales with a memorable vanity phone number!

Toll-Free Numbers

A memorable vanity phone number that spells a word or phrase that will stick in the mind of your customers.


Local Numbers

Get a local phone number in any area code so you can have a local presence in cities across the US and Canada.