In one strike, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone made communication the most modern of technologies, wherein electricity chased the speed of sound right up to the speed of light. The phone has remained modern ever since, yet the blindingly fast systems of today can still accommodate the old phones. A cradle phone from the 1930s can connect today to a cell phone on a ship out at sea—via satellite and without a hitch. Most telephones made after 1925 can be used today with their original workings intact. There is a peculiar satisfaction about a technology that moves forward and yet leaves nothing behind.
Cell phones are not yet collectible, but those who use them will surely benefit from an advertisement placed by Bell Telephone: “When replying to communication from another, do not speak too promptly … much trouble is caused from both parties speaking at the same time. When you are not speaking, you should be listening.” The year of that ad was 1877. The ever-changing world of the telephone really does not leave much behind.
Books Telephones Antique to Modem by Kate E. Dooner (1992).
Organization Antique Telephone Collectors Association, P.O. Box 94, Abilene, KS 67410 (785-263-1757).
Museum Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.) exhibit “Information Age.”
Internet-auction search terms With the word telephone , try antique, candlestick , or Bakelite .