Since its invention in 1875, the telephone has been an essential part of people's lives. Little about the telephone's appearance changed until the 1960s, when touch-tone dialing replaced the rotary dial with push buttons. Until the 1980s, most telephones were hard-wired into our homes or businesses, came in only a few colors and had a rotary dial or a push button display. Today, our choices in telephones and telephone technologies have grown enormously.
The Wired Telephone
Telephones that are hard-wired into our homes are commonly referred to today as land-line phones, and they are decreasing in popularity as other options become more widely available. Features such as speakerphones, memory dialing and internal answering devices were developed to improve the usefulness of the contemporary phone, making it far superior to its rotary-dial ancestor.
Cordless phones became popular in the 1970s, but until the Federal Communications Commission granted a greater spectrum of frequency ranges in the 1990s, they were also unreliable and prone to interference. Connections were often lost, and the cordless phone could not be taken too far from the base unit without malfunctioning.
The Cell Revolution
Despite the initial hurdles raised by the FCC's rules and regulations and its unwillingness to provide substantial frequency spectra, the cell phone burst onto the scene in the late 1970s. At last the telephone was mobile, and there was no turning back. From the first unwieldy, brick-sized mobile phones to today's palm-sized thin models, new technologies and applications became available seemingly every week. In 2007, Wired.com reported that 82 percent of Americans had cell phones.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
In an article written in 2007 and appearing on Washington University Law School website, VOIP was referred to as an "emerging technology." Since that time, the technology has exploded. Today, one VOIP provider alone, Skype, reports that it has 309 million registered users. For the most part, VOIP calls are free, except for the cost of the Internet connection.
- Photo Credit old phone image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com office phone image by Christian De Grandmaison from Fotolia.com home phone base image by Michael Shake from Fotolia.com woman on cell phone image by palms from Fotolia.com laptop image by eka from Fotolia.com