March 10: The telephone is 133 years old today. Call me.

Dennis Baron debaron at
Tue Mar 10 02:24:45 UTC 2009

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

March 10: The telephone is 133 years old today. Call me.

133 years ago, on March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated  
that the human voice could be transmitted electrically across wires by  
shouting the famous words, "Mr. Watson – Come here – I want to see  
you," into the telephone that he had constructed. As Bell wrote in his  
lab notebook, "To my delight he came and declared that he had heard  
and understood what I said." To prove it, Watson repeated Bell's words  

Bell had to shout into the receiver because the electrical signal lost  
strength as it traveled from one room to the next. The sound quality  
was poor as well. When the two men changed places and Watson spoke  
into the device, Bell couldn't understand the passage that Watson read  
from a book:

I could not make out the sense, but an occasional word here and there  
was quite distinct. I made out "to" and "out" and "further", and  
finally the sentence "Mr. Bell Do you understand what I say? DO-YOU-un- 
der-stand-what-I-say" came quite clearly and intelligibly.

Find out more about old phones and new, on the Web of Language

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

read the Web of Language:

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