ability to communicate over distance has long been part
of human history. The earlist primative methods such
as beating drums led to optical telegraphy using smoke
signals, beacons of light and flags. A semaphore network
invented by Claude Chappe operated in France in the
late 1700's. An electrical telegraph was developed and
patented in the United States in 1837 by Samuel F. B.
Morse which revolutionized
long distance communication. In 1863 Johann Phillipp
Reis demonstrated a working electrical voice-transmission
system . His machine consisted of a vibrating membrane
that opened or closed an electric circuit. Working examples
of Reis' transmitter and receiver can be found on the
photos of early telephones page.
While Reis only used his machine to demonstrate the
nature of sound, there were other inventors that tried
to find more practical
applications of this technology. While there were
others, it was Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 who was
given a patent for the first operational telephone.
It was this invention that proved to revolutionize the
way people communicate throughout the world.