The Telephone Turns 140 Today!

140 years ago today, Alexander Graham Bell changed the world forever with the invention of the telephone, transmitting clear speech for the first time with the famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” Bell’s telephone is the predecessor to and inspiration behind Dublin-based cloud telephony company, Solgari. Below, Solgari CEO and co-founder, John Colgan, provides his comments on the telephone’s impact on communications, business and technology.

“Few ideas have made the difference that telephony has, either in terms of its disruption or scale. From a faint crackle of audio in 1876, there are now 25 million landline telephones in the UK, more than 7 billion mobile devices worldwide, with billions of people, from Edinburgh to Nova Scotia, using internet-enabled audio, video and instant message communications.

“However, 140 years also marks the end of an era for the traditional communications industry, which has reached a point today whereby it is no longer driving innovation and growth – and is facing a huge threat from new technologies. Once agile disruptors, traditional telcos have been slowed by legacy infrastructure and outdated technologies. They are relics, dinosaurs by comparison to today’s nimble communications start-ups.

“Indeed, telcos are increasingly looking externally to IT software and cloud providers for the communications technologies of the future. With some being bypassed entirely. This has long been the elephant in the room at communications events, and much like the banking sector which is increasingly being squeezed by new technologies, the telecommunications industry is having to adapt to survive. Cloud telephony and business communications will almost certainly play a central role in years to come. The ability to access all communications from a single cloud software platform, through any device, is much better suited to modern consumer and business demands. As this trend looks set to grow, only time will tell how communications technology will look in the next five years, never mind the next 140 years.”

Telephony: Key facts and figures
•10 March 1876 – The first successful bi-directional transmission of clear speech was made by Alexander Graham Bell – there are now 25 million landline telephones in the UK
•1877 – First long-distance telephone line – today there are 1.16 billion worldwide
•1889 – the first ever public telephone installed
•1973 – First cellular phone call made – there are now more than 7 billion mobile devices worldwide, as many mobiles as people on earth
•1989 – Invention of the World Wide Web
•1995 – First VOIP company, VocalTec, founded and launch of the ‘InternetPhone’
•2007 – iPhone launched – Apple sold 231m iPhone units in 2015
•2016 – Gartner predicts cloud telephony and business communications software spending will surpass on premise hardware in 2017

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine