The History of Telecommunications

In 1876, an inventor named Alexander Graham Bell was awarded a patent for one of the most significant devices in our lives, the telephone set. Mr. Bell had spent years trying to develop a method of communicating with his wife. Mrs. Bell was deaf so Alexander was looking for a means of establishing a way to convert sound into some other form of communications, so that his wife could understand him. While she was in a hospital for the deaf in Boston, Massachusetts, he was busy at work trying to solve his basic problem of communications.  Having some experience with the way the telegraph worked, where coded messages could be sent across a cable, Alexander Bell decided to mimic this means of communications.

Using the basic philosophy that communications could be converted from sound into electricity, he would be able to speak into a communications device, which in turn would convert the human sound wave into electrical energy. This electrical energy could then be used to produce a coded message similar to a telegraph message. This all sounded good, but led to long bouts with its development. Many frustrations were experienced by Bell and his assistant, Dr. Watson.

No matter how hard they tried, the success of the transmission of voice into an electrical current seemed to allude these two inventors.Then one day, fate struck. While working in the lab by himself (Dr. Watson was there, but had left for a moment) Dr. Bell spilled some acid on his work-table. This acid acted as a catalyst to produce a battery effect. Without realizing what had actually occurred at the time, Dr. Bell called out for Dr. Watson. His call of "Dr. Watson, come here I need you" was activated across the experimental device they had set up for the communicator. His voice carried across a wire to a second room, where Dr. Watson was working. Hearing the call for help, Watson ran to the aid of his partner. They discovered that if a battery is applied across the electrical circuit (the wires) while the user speaks, the sound wave produced by the human voice could be carried across this same pair of wires to a receiving end set up to accept this electrical current and convert the electricity back into sound. Hence, on that fateful day, the birth of a new industry occurred. The telephone set was invented!Bell and Watson were elated. They were the inventors of what we have grown dependent on, the basic voice communications telephone set. This was in light of a similar activity taking place elsewhere.The telephone set, as it was designed, is used to transmit sound to the receiving party. The basic telephone set that was designed by Alexander Bell carried his voice between rooms from his set to the one where Watson was working. So it began. If the telephone network and the telephone set were designed to carry voice signals from one point to another, then the characteristics of the voice signal must be known. A great amount of time and effort went into studying the actual variables associated with sound as the vocal chords create it. From these studies, one can derive the fundamental concepts of a telecommunications network. This implies that the telephone set is designed to carry only voice. In reality, this is correct because all of the effort was to carry voice in its truest possible form from the sender to receiver.

The word telecommunications involves this very basic concept. A definition is in order here because we will be covering the characteristics of the telephone networks and its ability to carry the human voice. 

Telecommunications: The transmission of information, in the form of voice, data, video or images, across a distance over a medium, from a sender to a receiver, in a usable and understandable manner.The definition is complicated, but can be simplified in such a way as to break the two pieces apart and state them differently.

Tele: From the Greek root meaning from afar. This implies that the information will be carried over some distance, from as little as a few inches to as much as thousands of miles.

Communicate: From the Greek root meaning to make common. The implication here is that if we are to send any form of information across the medium, then it must be understandable or else it is wasted energy.


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