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Fdr Compared To Tr Essay, Research Paper
In the golden summer before World War I, the inventions and discoveries of the late 19th century transformed North American life. Automobiles shortened (or at least seemed to) the miles; airplanes fulfilled humanity s dream of mechanized flight. Electric light was now commonplace, and the telephone was rapidly building communication networks across the North American continent. But the two inventions that helped shape America as we know it are the telephone and the television.
The inhabitants of the earth have long communicated at a distance, e.g., shouting from one hilltop or tower to another. A combination of two Greek words, ‘tele’ (meaning far off) and ‘phone’ (meaning voice or sound) became the term for ‘far-speaking’. Distance communication by means other than voice had early associations with music, dating to the early 1800s. Charles Wheatstone, co-inventor of the telegraph, applied the term ‘telephonic’ to describe his invention, an ‘enchanted lyre’ which transmitted music from one room to another. Speaking tubes were used on steamships and trains and in office walls and households to carry on conversations between parties in distant rooms. Victorian children played with string telephones (small tin cylinders with paper drumheads attached by a string).It was only to be a matter of time before the application of electricity to the concept of the string telephone would be realized. Philipp Reis began his research in 1860, using the ‘hollowed-out bung of a beer barrel, a sausage skin, a violin, and a knitting-needle’ and called his invention a ‘telephon’ (Young, 1991, p. 5). Reis came close to inventing the electric telephone, missing only by a ‘turn of a screw’ (Brooks, 1976, p. 36). However, the person most closely associated with the true invention of the electric telephone remains Alexander Graham Bell.
The son of Alexander Melville Bell, Alexander Graham Bell (creator of a code called ‘Visible Speech’, which was a widely-used system to teach pronunciation primarily to deaf persons) focused his efforts on matters of speech transmission and speech reception. This emphasis eventually led to his later experiments on electric telephony. Alexander Graham Bell’s experiments were based largely in part on others’ work on speaking telephones that were not electric and electric phones that could not speak. Most early research in this vein was on the transmission of music, not voice.
Thomas Watson, an expert technician assigned to assist Bell, participated in all pre-telephone experiments. The principle of the telephone was uncovered in 1874, but it was the unique combination of electricity and voice that led to Bell’s actual invention of the telephone in 1876. Convincing Bell’s partners, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a prominent lawyer from Boston, and Thomas Sanders, a leather merchant with capital from Salem, about the potential for voice transmittal was not an easy task, and they often threatened to pull Bell’s funding.
Nonetheless, agreement was finally reached and the trio received US Patent No. 174,465, issued on March 3, 1876 for Improvements in Telegraphy, which is now considered to be the most valuable patent ever issued. Bell considered his invention’s greatest advantage over every other form of electrical apparatus to be the fact that it could be used by anyone, as…
“all other telegraphic machines produce signals which require to be translated by experts, and such instruments are therefore extremely limited in their application, but the telephone actually speaks, and for this reason it can be utilized for nearly every purpose for which speech is employed”
AG Bell, 1878, as cited in Young, 1991, p.6.
Bell was nearly beaten to the patent office by Elisha Gray, who had independently developed a very similar invention. Gray arrived just hours after Bell at the Patent Office, filing a ‘caveat’ a confidential report of an invention that was not yet perfected. Western Electric, cofounded by Gray, became one of the Bell Systems’ major competitors.
Western Union was another major competitor, already having established itself as a communications provider with the telegraph system. Another famous inventor, Thomas Edison, took advantage of Bell’s failure to secure a patent in Britain for the Bell receiver, and received a patent for a new receiver, the ‘electro-motograph’, which required continuous cranking, else the conversation would end. However, by 1880, the Bell transmitter and the Edison receiver were combined and used throughout Britain.
The first permanent outdoor telephone wire, strung in 1877, covered a distance of three miles. Bell could be credited with the anticipation of fiber optics – he worked on a ‘photophone’, which could actually transmit sound for a short distance over a beam of light. Commercial telephone service began in the United States in 1877. The workable exchange, developed in 1878, enabled calls to be switched among any number of subscribers rather than requiring direct lines. Exchanges were handled manually, first by boys, then by the now-famous women operators in their bustles. In 1879, telephone subscribers began to be designated by numbers rather than names, as a result of an epidemic of measles. A Lowell, Massachusetts doctor, concerned about the inability of replacement exchange operators to put calls through because they would not be familiar with the names associated with all the jacks on the switchboards, suggested the alpha-numeric system of identifying customers by a two- letter and five-digit system.
Because of the largely monopolistic power of the American Bell Company, profits were held high, reaching levels of $1 million in revenue while paying out $600,000 in dividends in 1882. Competition remained a major threat, as the Bell, Western Union, and Western Electric systems were incompatible and not connected. As many as three or more independent telephone companies battled in a given area for customers. Problems with the telephone occurred when other applications of electricity flourished, particularly trolley cars and street lamps.
Natural electricity also interfered with the system, as lightning wreaked havoc on the lines. Long-distance service was established and grew in the 1880s using metallic circuits. The common-battery system, developed by Hammond V. Hayes in 1888, permitted a central battery to supply all telephones on an exchange with power, rather than relying upon each unit’s own troublesome battery.
The first automatic dialing system was patented in 1891 by a Kansas City undertaker who believed that crooked operators were sending his business elsewhere, with his main objective being to eliminate the operators. The first coin telephone was installed in Hartford, Connecticut in 1900. Party lines were soon developed to lower the cost of the telephone for individual families, especially those in rural locations.
A young inventor, Lee De Forest, began work in 1906 on applying what was known as an ‘audion’, a three-element vacuum tube, which could amplify radio waves. He recognized the potential for installing audions or repeaters on telephone lines to amplify the sound waves at mid-points along the wires. The Bell System bought the rights to De Forest’s patents in 1913. Long-distance telephone service was constructed on the New York to San Francisco circuit using loading coils and repeaters. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) took control of Western Union telegraph Company in a ‘hostile takeover’, in 1911, having purchased the Western Union stocks through a subsidiary. The two eventually merged, sharing financial data and telephone lines. In 1918, ten million Bell System telephones were in service.
Theodore Vail, president of the Bell System from 1885 to 1887 and 1907 to 1919, (and son of Samuel Morse’s partner Alfred Vail – Ed.)faced the challenge of making a large private corporation adopt a policy of subordinating the maximization of profit to the provision of service to its customers (Brooke, 1976). The political and business environment in the United States following the First World War was strongly ‘anti-monopolistic’. Yet, advantages to single- company service or limiting service in a given area to few competitors had its advantages. Under Vail’s leadership, automatic switching of large numbers of calls was made possible in 1921, using ‘phantom circuits’, which allowed three telephone conversations to be conducted on two pairs of wires. The ‘French’ phone, with the transmitter and receiver in a single handset, was developed by the Bell System around 1904, but was not released on a widespread basis because it cost more than the desk sets. They ultimately became available to subscribers in 1927.
The first transatlantic service, from New York to London, became operational in 1927, and was transmitted by radio waves. Research in electronic telephone exchanges began in 1936 in Bell Labs, and was ultimately perfected in the 1960s with its Electronic Switching System (ESS). Bell benefited greatly from US defense spending during World War II in its laboratories. War-time experiments, innovations, and inventions brought Bell to the forefront of telecommunications in the post-war era. The first commercial mobile telephone service was put in service in 1946, linking moving vehicles to telephone networks by radio. The same year brought transmission via coaxial cables, resulting in a major improvement in service as they were less likely to be interrupted by other electrical interference. Microwave radio transmission was used for long-distance telephony in 1947. The transistor, a key to modern electronics, was invented at Bell Labs in 1947. A team consisting of William Schockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen demonstrated the ‘transistor effect’, using a germanium crystal that they had set up in contact with two wires two-thousandths of an inch apart. Changes were underway in the 1950s. Consumers initially objected to all-numeral telephone numbers (All Number Calling, or ANC) that were introduced in the latter half of the decade. Consumer demand for telephones had outstripped the ability of the telephone system to supply all of the required numbers, which were restricted by the alpha-numeric combinations in place for decades. The laying of transatlantic telephone cables began in 1955. Care was taken to ensure that the submarine repeaters would be of the highest quality, guaranteed to last at least twenty years before replacement would be required. Telstar, the world’s first international communications satellite, was rocketed into orbit on July 10, 1962, with collaboration between NASA and the Bell System. Satellites in geosynchronous orbit are used mostly for long-distance service.
Videophones, developed in the mid-1960s, were becoming more affordable and practical with the combination of devices that eased the transmission and reception of both audio and video signals over telephone lines. Fiber optic cables (or ‘fiber optics’), developed in the early 1980s, offered the potential to carry greater volumes of calls than satellite or microwave links. Electrical telephone signals are fed into tiny semiconductor lasers, which produce pulses of light in response to incoming signals and are bounced down the inside of extremely thin glass fibers. Today’s cellular mobile telephones rely upon a series of ‘cells’, each with its own central radio transmitter and receiver. Each cellular telephone unit also has its own central transmitter-receiver, permitting it to receive seamless transmission as they enter and exit from a cell. The impact of the telephone has been described as both positive and negative. On the negative side, wars are waged more easily, the scope of human conflict has been extended along telephone lines, the multi-generational household has been broken-up as living alone is no longer an experiment in isolation, and the time-space continuum seems to be compressed faster than previously thought possible (Brooks, 1976). On the other hand, the invention of the telephone has resulted in the rapid and diffuse dissemination of technical and scientific information, saved lives through links to emergency services, made possible the modern city through telephonic connections, increased the speed and ease with which information changes place, and accelerated the rate of scientific and technological change and growth in industry (Brooks, 1976). It is curious in contrast to now consider the musings of Herbert Casson (1910, p. 299), who ended his book with a question,
“Who could have foreseen what the telephone bells have done to ring out the old ways and to ring in the new; to ring out delay and isolation and to ring in the efficiency and friendliness of a truly united people”
The future combination of various means of telecommunications, with the personal computer and recent inventions such as the facsimile machine, could never have been foreseen yet they hold the potential for vast changes in the global environment for society, business and industry, and governments.
Timeline: A History of the Telephone
1860 Philipp Reis develops a telephon.
1874 Alexander Graham Bell discovered the principle of the telephone.
1876 US Patent No. 174,465, issued on March 3 for ‘Improvements in Telegraphy’.
1876 Elisha Gray applies for a similar patent hours after Bell.
1877 Thomas Edison receives a patent in Britain for the ‘electro-motograph’.
First permanent outdoor telephone wire strung.
Commercial telephone service began in the United States.
1878 The workable exchange enabled calls to be switched among any number of subscribers rather than requiring direct lines. Exchanges were handled manually, first by boys, then by the now-famous women operators in their bustles.
1879 Telephone subscribers began to be designated by numbers rather than names.
1880s Long distance service was established and grew using metallic circuits.
1888 The common battery system, developed by Hammond V. Hayes, permitted a central battery to supply all telephones on an exchange.
1891 The first automatic dial system was patented by a Kansas City undertaker.
1900 The first coin telephone was installed in Hartford, Connecticut.
1906 Lee De Forest, began work 1906 on applying what was known as an ‘audion’, a three element vacuum tube, which could amplify radio waves, to telephony.
1911 American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) took control of Western Union Telegraph Company.
1913 The Bell System bought the rights to De Forest’s patents which were used for long distance telephone service. First long-distance wire link was on the New York to San Francisco circuit using loading coils and repeaters.
1918 Ten million Bell System telephones were in service.
1921 Automatic switching of large numbers of calls was made possible using ‘phantom circuits’, which allowed three telephone conversations to be conducted on two pairs of wires.
1927 The ‘French’ phone, with the transmitter and receiver in a single handset, was developed by the Bell System was released on a widespread basis.
1927 Transatlantic service from New York to London became operational, transmitted by radio waves.
1936 Research on electronic telephone exchanges began in Bell Labs and was ultimately perfected in the 1960s with AT&T’s Electronic Switching System (ESS).
1946 First commercial mobile telephone service put into service in 1946, linking moving vehicles to the telephone network by radio.
1946 Transmission via coaxial cables was accomplished.
1947 Microwave radio transmission was used for long-distance telephony.
The transistor, a key to modern electronics, was invented at Bell Labs by a team consisting of William Schockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen.
1955 The laying of transatlantic telephone cables began.
1958 All Number Calling (ANC) instituted to handle consumer demands for individual telephone numbers.
1962 Telstar, the world’s first international communications satellite, was rocketed into orbit on July 10 with the collaboration between NASA and the Bell System.
1960s Videophones became more affordable and practical.
1980s Fiber optic(s) technology developed
Visionary inventors first conceived notions of television s possibilities as the 19th century concluded. George Carey of Boston first suggested sending every component of a picture over multiple circuits in 1875, but others like W.E. Sawyer proposed transmission of images over a single wire or channel by rapidly scanning picture elements in succession. Just a century later, television is a reality for all. Today, almost every household 98 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television. There are hundreds of broadcast, cable and satellite television channels sending out scores of hours of programming to viewers across the world. How did television develop? How did inventors nourish this technology along the way? Several key figures were responsible for television s development and growth.
Known as the father of modern television, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin was a Russian-born American inventor whose two inventions made watching your favorite sitcom possible. Working with Pittsburgh s Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Zworykin invented the iconoscope in 1923 a tube for television transmission. The iconoscope was later replaced but laid the foundations for early television cameras. The iconoscope allowed pictures to be electronically broken down into hundreds of thousands of elements. By 1924, Zworykin had filed a patent application for the kinescope or television receiver. In 1929 in Pittsburgh, Zworykin would demonstrate how television would work with his kinescope, or cathode-ray tube.
Zworykin s model for television was quite different than the television you might watch today. The screen he was working with was only one square inch –a far cry from the big screens and high definition television sets of today! In 1932, the inventor s iconoscope was able to imitate the ways that human eyes view images for television broadcast. Later, after joining the Radio Corporation of America, Zworykin also developed designs for color television, but in his life s later years, television s trivialization of everyday life disturbed the inventor, who favored using television as a cultural enrichment and learning tool.
During his high school years, Philo Taylor Farnsworth was busy thinking about making television work while his friends were outside playing. Farnworth later attended Brigham Young University in his home state of Utah and immersed himself in research on television picture transmission. By 1927, at the tender age of 30, Farnsworth was the first to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. The image transmitted was a dollar sign. Quite appropriate considering the amount of revenues that television would bring many in the decades to come! Throughout his lifetime, Farnsworth amassed some 165 patents.
So television was born, and the invention saw many developments. American culture would change forever and keep changing with television s growth. Inventors like Peter Goldmark of CBS would revolutionize the medium with his three-filter system allowing color television. Goldmark s filter system provided a mechanical solution that needed modification. After a government-led regulatory process prior to color television s implementation, color broadcasting began in 1953. Later, Goldmark would achieve fame for the first electronic video recording system the forerunner for the VCR in your home today.
Television took off. It was showcased at the 1939 World s Fair in New York, where regular broadcasting began. NBC and CBS’s programming took off in the early 1940s, and by the middle of the decade, over 20 stations flourished. Pittsburgh was the home of not only the first radio station but the first public broadcast station. WQED-TV went on the air in 1954, and the station soared for decades with programs like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T). (1979). Events in telecommunications history. New York: Author.
Brooks, J. (1976). Telephone: the first hundred years. New York: Harper & Row.
Casson, H. (1910). The history of the telephone. Chicago: A. C. McClurg.
Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. (1994). The Telephone, software version 2.00 VW for CD-ROM. New York: Compton s New Media.
Du Moncel, T. (1974). The telephone, the microphone, and the phonograph. New York: Arno Press. Reprinted from the 1879 edition printed by Harper, New York.
Fischer, C. (1992). America calling: a social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Young, P. (1991). Person to person: the international impact of the telephone. Cambridge: Granta Editions.
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