Segments in this Video

Invention of Telephone (00:58)


We will learn how one man's love for his mother led to the invention of the telephone.

History of Communication (01:45)

Native Americans sent messages using smoke signals. Morse invented the telegraph, which inspired Bell's creation of the "harmonic telegraph," which transmits multiple messages at once and became the telephone.

Bell Mistranslates German (01:31)

Alexander Graham Bell, teaching deaf children to speak, developed an interest in voice and vibration. A mistaken reading of a German scientific authority gave him confidence to proceed on experiments that led to the telephone

Telephone Workings (03:03)

The principle of notes travelling down a wire is illustrated using two cans and a piece of string. Different tones vary the strength of an electric current in a wire.

Lack of Interest in Telephone (02:36)

Early phones are shown. People were fascinated but saw no practical need. Lack of phone lines and other people to talk to were early challenges. Long distance lines finally opened.

Bell's Patent (01:23)

Bell beat Elisha Gray to the patent for the telephone, then founded the Bell Company.

Manual Switchboards (02:16)

Manual switchboard operators connected one person's line to another's phone; the system became unwieldy as use grew. Almon Strowger created an automatic switchboard, paving the way for today's direct dial service.

Cellular Phones (01:48)

In 1947, Bell Laboratories introduced the idea of cellular communication, first used in police cars. Motorola released the first hand-held cellular phone.

Cell Phone Technology (02:16)

Batteries becoming smaller made cellular phones possible. A system of towers carves up the world into cells. Digital technology breaks voice signals into binary code.

Text Messages (02:26)

Text messaging was originally designed for cell phone operators to communicate with users if networks weren't working. Cell phones are digital, allowing us to transmit information in tiny amounts.

Augmented Reality (02:06)

Mobile phones give a window to augmented reality, using GPS to tell us information about our surroundings our senses do not.

Phone-Less Future (02:10)

Talking on the phone is unnatural; most information we gather in conversation is non-verbal. Skype offers a solution. The future may bring tiny projectors beaming screen and virtual keyboard, or brainwaves interfacing directly with machines.

Credits: Telephony: Quirky Science (00:44)

Credits: Telephony: Quirky Science

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Telephony: Quirky Science

Part of the Series : Quirky Science
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



A man with an ear for music thought he could build a “harmonic telegraph.” He thought this would be possible because he had misinterpreted the writings of a researcher writing in German—a language he did not know. This program profiles Alexander Graham Bell and his work on telephony. The big question is: what happens in that wire? Bell and his assistant ultimately proved that different tones would vary the strength of an electric current in a wire. Eventually, the telephone—or better said, its wiring—leads to the Internet and the wireless communication of today. Looking to the future, are we headed toward a “phoneless” call? Part of the series Quirky Science. (25 minutes)

Length: 26 minutes

Item#: BVL50327

ISBN: 978-1-62290-685-7

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.