Friday, April 12, 2024


This piece of technology was primarily used exclusively for communication, but it has since become an essential element of human existence. Even this article was written with the assistance of a phone. Despite the fact that there have been many legendary phone-related events since the invention of the device, the first one actually happened in the City of Brotherly Love. All because of the renowned exhibition where top innovators gathered and fought for their claim to the world’s first patent phone. Find out more information on the history of this technological phenomenon, including the role of Philadelphia in the advancement of the communication device, when and thanks to whom it appeared and the origins of the invention in our city, at philadelphia-future.

Who owns the patent?

The second half of the nineteenth century was well known for its patent fights. Everything is due to the gradual expansion of the scientific and technological industries, as well as the appearance of new bright innovators. Telegraphs were already used to communicate with people on the opposite side of the planet back then. However, despite its popularity at the time, the device used for distant communication was, to put it mildly, inconvenient to use. 

Consider this: not only were voice messages not allowed, but the addresser and addressee were also required to know a special communicative language, Morse code. The inhabitants of Philadelphia understood this linguistic difficulty better than anybody else, despite the fact that Morse language was occasionally used in communication.

Elisha Gray was among the first to address the issue of the inconvenience of using the telegraph. This electrical engineer is widely known for introducing the idea that it is possible to transmit voice across a special cable using a liquid transmitter.

The engineer was overjoyed because no one before him could boast of such achievement, so instead of wasting time on gloating and self-esteem, he published the corresponding statement regarding a patent for an innovation. He had no idea that another official candidate, the Scottish scientist Alexander Bell, almost at the same time, did the same.

In 1876, Philadelphia hosted the famed exhibition of the century, during which the Scottish invention made its public debut. Gray and his prototype of the new telegraph were also present at the abovementioned event. 

Bell presented his revolutionary invention to the monarch of Brazil himself. Dom Pedro II, like everyone else present, was appalled at the conversational technology. Elisha Gray was so outraged by Bell’s success that he sued him for patent infringement. As it turned out later, the inventor was the one who initially discovered the technology, but Alexander was given the legal rights.

How did the invention develop in the city?

A private telephone line for practical use first appeared in the City of Brotherly Love in 1877, and Bell eventually acquired ownership of it. His Philadelphia Telephone Company was located on Chestnut Street.

Gray’s innovation, which legally belonged to Bell, was distributed all over the world by the end of the nineteenth century. According to historical records, one of the first people to use phones was a rich entrepreneur from Philadelphia named John Wanamaker. The businessman installed the miraculous device in the store, allowing customers to order food over the phone. The Wanamaker technology differed from other similar technologies in that potential buyers could purchase things from New York and have them delivered to our area. 

In the winter of 1911, the device broadcast to consumers of John’s New York store the ceremony of opening a branch in the first capital of the United States of America. 

Businessmen, doctors, pharmacists and other members of the business community were among the first phone users in Philadelphia. At the same time, the device’s use for communication by ordinary residents of the city remained low until the twentieth century. They didn’t understand the use of the device for social calls, therefore phone company owners concentrated on promoting it to business owners. At the turn of the twentieth century, the oldest city in the United States had almost seventy thousand subscribers.

Bell’s ownership of the telephone patent expired in 1894, and as a result, he began to lose competition to other entrepreneurs. The biggest competitor at the time was Robert Foerderer, who established the Keystone Telephone Company. The rivalry between them lasted more than 50 years, and in the end, one of the original inventors triumphed. However, Bell’s telecommunications monopoly gradually disintegrated, dividing into seven distinct enterprises known as the Baby Bells.

First mobile phone

Many historical events occurred in the city of Philadelphia, one of which was the debut exploitation of a mobile phone. 

The owner of this modified invention was a native of our region, W. McFarlane. His phone weighed more than 20 pounds and could only connect to a caller within a quarter-mile radius.

Despite its limited mobility, the device caught the attention of many media workers at the time. The local inventor, who anticipated that the current invention would be employed on railroads, became a prophet of sorts. His words became a reality fifty years later.

The aforementioned Alexander Bell’s company developed a large-scale and pricey radio system for a high-speed subway connecting the Penn Central railroad and surrounding Pennsylvania states. The system was operated by a computerized control center at the Philadelphia station.

In 1983, McFarlane’s invention debuted on the market under the name DynaTAC. Production was carried out by the American company Motorola. Then, the device was more prevalent among the wealthy or those who had their own businesses. They made use of the innovation to make company operations easier. Over time, the brick phone, as it is commonly referred to, became a widespread device among all people around the globe. Recently, American research groups discovered that more than 90% of US residents born in the last century owned a wireless phone.

Is Philadelphia the birthplace of phones?

The story of a technological miracle that later became popular all over the world began in the City of Brotherly Love. Here, the aforementioned invention, like any other novelty, went through a cycle of public disdain, followed by widespread acceptance. Without a doubt, our region played a critical part in the development of this technology and the entire telecommunications industry that exists in the 21st century. Even though the inventor Alexander Bell left the Philadelphia market in the late 1990s, he will always be known as one of the first founders of the telecommunications industry in Philadelphia. His company was the most powerful in terms of technical and financial strength. These crucial elements helped to ensure that the landline telephone connection worked without any issues. Who knows, perhaps telegraphs would still be used in modern times if not for Philadelphia’s technological potential. At the same time, it’s a shame that the original capital of the United States of America has lost its former glory as the center of all communications industry and innovation on the American continent.

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