Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Benjamin J. Bates
The telephone, an initial version of which was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, emerged from research into improving telegraphy. The innovation was a mechanism for delivering voice and audio signals over a short distance via wires. As with most technical developments, however, a number of possible uses were envisioned for this system of distributing sound. One interesting early application was the news and entertainment services offered in the 1890s to subscribers in several European and American cities. These “telephone newspapers” operated as early wired broadcast systems, offering a mix of news, lectures, and a wide range of other information and entertainment options (including church services, concerts, and class lessons). However, with the rise of telephone's second major innovation, the concept of a switched network, where signals were directed to specific recipients rather than broadcast generally, systems found increasing value in the telephone as an interpersonal communication device rather ...