Considering how much telephone use has developed and changed in the last decade, it is remarkable to think how this seemingly simple invention has transformed the world. Today, more people have mobile phones than traditional landlines in the UK, and sending SMS text messages is just as popular as making actual calls, but the act of picking up a phone and speaking to someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away is not dead yet. Some of the most important conversations in recent history have been had over the phone, here are some examples.
Undoubtedly the most famous phone call ever made has to be Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone call to Thomas A. Watson in January 1876. Bell successfully made the world’s first telephone call to Watson over a two-mile stretch of wire between Boston and Cambridge. Edinburgh-born inventor Bell took his new invention even further by calling Watson over a distance of 3,400 miles in 1915 – from New York to San Francisco, marking the world’s first transcontinental phone call.
Perhaps it was thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of making phone calls, or just to get into the record books, but the title of the longest phone call ever goes to Cornishman Tony Wright, who talked on the phone for 40 straight hours in 2007. Beating the previous record by a clear minute, Wright cleverly used an internet telephone to avoid the potentially huge phone bill.
When you are the President of the USA, all eyes are on who the first person you telephone is, and last year’s phone call from newly elected President Obama to President Abbas not only suggested that the Middle East was a top priority for the President, but it also signified an era of peace to the world’s media. This is not the first time a US President has made a historical phone call, though, as Richard Nixon made perhaps the most famous phone call of any President in 1969. Just after astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, President Nixon telephoned them directly from the White House, in what is still one of the most famous phone calls in history.
A celebration was held in London last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the first ever telephone call made without the aid of an operator. The Queen made the call herself to Lord Provost of Edinburgh from the newly built central exchange headquarters in Bristol in 1958. The phone call, which has gone down in history as one of the most important advances in telecommunications, was short and sweet, with the Queen simply introducing herself and stating her location for the Provost. Now, cheap calls can be made from almost anywhere, thanks to internet telephone.
For all the wrong reasons, shock DJ Howard Stern has made a name for himself as one of the most creative and prolific prank callers around. The radio DJ has made the headlines many times for his imaginative and often offensive calls to unwitting celebrities, like Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx.