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Rise and Fall of the Landline: 143 Years of Telephones Becoming More Accessible - and Smart

MULTIZ321

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Rise and Fall of the Landline: 143 Years of Telephones Becoming More Accessible - and Smart
By Jay L. Zagorsky/ Technology/ Ladders/ theladders.com

"The global economy has changed dramatically over the past century and a half.

When I lecture my Boston University business students on this topic, I use one of the world’s most transformative inventions to illustrate my point: the telephone.

Before the telephone was invented, it was impossible to communicate by voice across any kind of distance. The landline in 1876, along with the telegraph a few decades earlier, revolutionized communications, leading leap by leap to the powerful computers tucked snugly in our pockets and purses today. And in the process, living standards exploded, with inflation-adjusted GDP surging from US$1,200 per person in 1870 to more than $10,000 today.

What follows are a few facts I like to share with my students, as well as several others that you might not be aware of about how the phone has reshaped our lives – and continues to do so.

‘Watson – I want to see you!’
One of the reasons I use the telephone in my lectures is because inventor Alexander Graham Bell actually created his phone and made the first call while a professor at Boston University, where I teach economics.

But that’s not the end of the story. Controversy continues over who actually invented the phone first. While Bell won the series of court battles over the first patent, some historians still give credit to Elisha Gray or Antonio Meucci, both of whom had been working on similar devices. The first telephone call happened on March 10, 1876, a few days after the Scottish-born inventor received a patent for the device. After he accidentally spilled battery acid on himself, Bell called for his assistant with the famous phrase “Mr. Watson, come here – I want to see you!”

In fact, in 2002, the U.S. Congress acknowledged Meucci’s role in the invention of the telephone – though it didn’t give him sole credit.

Number of connected telephones
Phones started out as novelty items shown just to kings and queens.

Today, they are something almost everyone carries with them, even the homeless.

In 1914, at the start of World War I, there were 10 people for every working telephone in the U.S. By the end of World War II in 1945, there were five people for every working phone.

The technology passed a key milestone in 1998, when there was one phone for every man, woman and child in the U.S......"





Richard
 

DrQ

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I keep my POTS just to p!ss off AT&T.
 

moonstone

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My dad started working for Bell Canada in Toronto in the 1950's repairing the old crank phones (no dial), he retired 43 years later repairing fiber optic cable! He saw a lot of advancement in the telephone industry.

~Diane
 

CanuckTravlr

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I remember seeing a clip on TV somewhere a few years ago, where a group of young children (maybe aged 5 or 6) were given a phone similar to the one in the picture in Richard's OP above. They were asked what they thought it was and how they would use it? I can't remember if most of them figured it out or had to be told it was a telephone.

The fascinating part for me was then watching them try to figure out how to use it! Of course, in a world where most devices now are touch sensitive, most of them tried pushing on the number or in the hole on the dial adjacent to the number. But of course nothing happened. They had to be shown how to put their finger in the hole and rotate the dial and then release it! They thought it was very odd, and of course, very slow.

I got a great chuckle out of that! :):)
 

Eric B

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When we moved into our current home ten years ago, I had the bare-bones telephone service activated in order to provide for monitoring of a fire/burglar alarm. I think the cost was something like $5 per month, but the taxes and fees on top of that added another $13 or so. That lasted less than a month; once we got the first bill, I switched to cellular service monitoring for the alarm at <$10 per month and have just been using cell phones for all our calls anyway. It took a little bit of getting used to things like not simultaneously talking with people in a phone call, but the landline phone companies can thank the addition of all those fees and taxes for losing this customer.
 

WinniWoman

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I still love my landline, hut yeah- the taxes and fees make it more expensive than the few bucks it really costs without them. Btu I am still afraid to go totally cellular here. Last May the cell towers were down after a storm for 2 weeks. In fact- I think the landlines were also down at the same time- but usually it is one or the other. I like having a lot of options. Don't trust any one thing these days.
 

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I spent my entire career with the phone company designing the distribution network for land lines. I recall the demand hit its peak in the late 80's - before cell phones - when people had a main line for the house, plus 1 or more for the kids, then started adding lines for their dial-up modems. It was not unusual for some homes to have 3 or 4 lines into their house. Now we all have a cell phone, and very few people have land lines anymore. I just had mine disconnected last week. All I ever got were robo-calls, so I turned off the ringer and let the mail box fill up. Only kept the land line because they would have charged me even more for my DSL. Now I get 50mb/s instead of 3 with the DSL, for half the cost.
 

vacationhopeful

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I use Ooma (VOIP) for 3 phones with 2 numbers in my house. I have 2 cell TracPhones .... one for business ads and one for friends & family .. neither of which has VM activated (eats up too many minutes to listen to messages). Family is all listed in cell phone contacts.

This has greatly reduce my month "phone" bills.

Now, I just continue to do battle with Comcast for internet & cabletv service with a $131.45 monthly bill ... I swear I have MORE TV channels with a digital antenna 100 miles from NYC than 15 miles from the Comcast Headquarters in Philadelphia, Pa. The digital powered indoor antenna was under $75 at Walmart and no monthly fees.
 

rapmarks

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I have a landline in each house partly because my husband can’t use cell phones, but all get are sales and scammers, so I think the phone company should pay me.
Unfortunately my husband cannot recognize a scam call and gives out information or comes and gets me, so we may have to remove
 

WinniWoman

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I spent my entire career with the phone company designing the distribution network for land lines. I recall the demand hit its peak in the late 80's - before cell phones - when people had a main line for the house, plus 1 or more for the kids, then started adding lines for their dial-up modems. It was not unusual for some homes to have 3 or 4 lines into their house. Now we all have a cell phone, and very few people have land lines anymore. I just had mine disconnected last week. All I ever got were robo-calls, so I turned off the ringer and let the mail box fill up. Only kept the land line because they would have charged me even more for my DSL. Now I get 50mb/s instead of 3 with the DSL, for half the cost.

Why does having a landline phone increase your DSL bill? We have DSL also. I never knew this. Anyway, we have an unlisted number and rarely- if ever- get any robo calls.
 

WinniWoman

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I have a landline in each house partly because my husband can’t use cell phones, but all get are sales and scammers, so I think the phone company should pay me.
Unfortunately my husband cannot recognize a scam call and gives out information or comes and gets me, so we may have to remove
If you unlist your number that should all stop. It has with us.
 

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Why does having a landline phone increase your DSL bill? We have DSL also. I never knew this. Anyway, we have an unlisted number and rarely- if ever- get any robo calls.
Of course they charge more for land line + DSL than they would for just one or the other. I kept the land line because of my retirement benefits which reimbursed me for the land line. If I disconnected the land line they would increase the charge for the DSL. It was cheaper for me to keep the land line I never used. If you check it out, you would pay more for your DSL if you didn't have a land line. It was cheaper for me because the land line was included with my retirement benefit.
 

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If you unlist your number that should all stop. It has with us.
Unlisting numbers that are already on the telemarketers lists will stop nothing.
 

Sea Six

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I have a landline in each house partly because my husband can’t use cell phones, but all get are sales and scammers, so I think the phone company should pay me.
Unfortunately my husband cannot recognize a scam call and gives out information or comes and gets me, so we may have to remove
Do NOT give your phone # or e-mail to ANYONE you do not know. NOT EVER!
 

rapmarks

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Do NOT give your phone # or e-mail to ANYONE you do not know. NOT EVER!
That’s not the information he is giving out, he is giving out his birthdate. He almost fell for back brace scam. Plus the calls every hour that iCloud is compromised.
Last week I got the grandson needing money call. I was laughing so hard because my grandson is 4.
 

WinniWoman

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How much extra is that, I must get twenty calls a day
For our phone company I believe it is like $5.00 per month now. Years go it was $1.00. Like everything else, it has gone up.

Another option is to change your phone number and then unlist it.
 
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WinniWoman

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Unlisting numbers that are already on the telemarketers lists will stop nothing.
Not true in our case. We never had an unlisted number at our last home and then after moving to our current house we started to get tons of them with our NEW phone number and we unlisted it and they stopped.

Another option is to just have your phone number changed and then unlist it.
 

WinniWoman

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Of course they charge more for land line + DSL than they would for just one or the other. I kept the land line because of my retirement benefits which reimbursed me for the land line. If I disconnected the land line they would increase the charge for the DSL. It was cheaper for me to keep the land line I never used. If you check it out, you would pay more for your DSL if you didn't have a land line. It was cheaper for me because the land line was included with my retirement benefit.
Right. That is what I thought but your last post read that it was higher if you had a landline than if you didn't.

Of course, if you have both services it would be more. That is logical.
 

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We gave up our landline 5 years ago as most family and friends calls were cell to cell and facetime. But, 18 months ago, when trying to cut a better cable TV/Internet package with Bell, I was offered a home phone lite package for $10 after discounts, but with a $15 bundle discount on our 3 service package resulting in getting our landline back with our previous number for $5 less than our previous two service package. Literally within a couple of days the telemarketing calls started all over again...including a local charity that previously wouldn't leave me alone. Had their automatic dialers been calling my old line weekly for the four years we had discontinued our land line? Got fed up with robo calls (phone lite didn't have call display) and cancelled. Cut a new deal, and now my two service package is about $25/mo less than a year ago. I'm ok with it, but two of my three programing credits expire this November and I'll have to watch for that or I go up by $50/mo. Telecommunications services pricing and packages are almost as sleazy as TSing!
 

rapmarks

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My daughter got a cell phone for my husband and he immediately got calls from an employment agency. We gave up on the phone, couldn’t get him to carry it or answer it. About a year later I worked with an occupational therapist to get him to answer the phone and make a call only to me. That same employment agency still called twice daily. We got my husband almost trained and the phone stopped working, but I am sure the employment agency is still trying.
 

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Just because you have a landline doesn’t mean you have to plug in the phone....
 

Sea Six

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Just because you have a landline doesn’t mean you have to plug in the phone....
I had the land line connected to my TV so I could see the caller ID while I was watching TV. Turns out most of the caller ID was "not available", or some such notice, never a real phone number. So, bye bye. I got tired of it.
 

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Got rid of the landline many years ago. Ported it to our cell provider. Now we keep our cells on do not disturb and unless you are in our contacts you won’t get through, period!
 
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