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A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today 51

alphadogg writes These days, making a call across the U.S. is so easy that people often don't even know they're talking coast to coast. But 100 years ago Sunday, it took a hackathon, a new technology and an international exposition to make it happen. The first commercial transcontinental phone line opened on Jan. 25, 1915, with a call from New York to the site of San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Alexander Graham Bell made the call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Just 39 years earlier, Bell had talked to Watson on the first ever phone call, in Boston, just after Bell had patented the telephone.
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A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today

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  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @04:58PM (#48900215)

    Notably, this was accomplished before the negative feedback amplifier [wikipedia.org] was invented in 1927.

    • Negative feedback was known about at the time.

      • C'mon, Murray. That's not so.

        What about ordinary criminals -- the kind who get their revenue without requiring you to do paperwork -- muggers and burglars and such?

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @05:30PM (#48900401)

      Negative feedback amplifier?

      Is that what a person upmodding a troll AC post is? ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      An amp with degenerative feedback has less gain. I don't understand the connection?

      This type of amplifier was known but rose to popularity only with the rise of solid-state circuits because of the transistor's problems with thermal runaway. Especially perplexing comment because it's just becoming (begrudgingly mine you) acknowledged that what looks nice and linear through a simulated resistive load on a piece of paper becomes notably non-linear through an actual, complex load. A long cable is a complex load

      • by dtmos ( 447842 ) *

        What it loses in gain it gains in bandwidth: While the gain-bandwidth product is a constant, one may trade gain to obtain bandwidth. In addition, the bandwidth was settable by external components, rather than by the parasitic reactances inside the tube (valve) itself -- an important property given the (relatively) short lives of the tubes, and the manufacturing variations between different copies of them.

        Negative feedback was very popular with vacuum-tube (valve) amplifiers of the 1930s and 1940s, for jus

    • Does this mean that Alexander Graham Bell made the very long range call to his assistant in 1915, but that until 1927 it was just a bunch of garbled noises that no else but the assistant could understand?

      Hopefully, AT&T will jump on that expired patent. It would be nice if AT&T allowed its cell phones to do the same thing by year 2027

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The historical date of the first transcontinental call could've been many years earlier.

  • by spiritplumber ( 1944222 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @05:17PM (#48900309) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

    However, the Canadians got really mad about it... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Canadians can approve any motion they want, that doesn't magically change the fact that Meucci invented the phone way before Bell.

      By the way, Meucci's wikipedia entry was clearly edited by some canadian trolls: since in his patent caveat he says "sound" but not "voice", then he didn't invent the phone. LOL! No better proof that wikipedia is becoming trashier every day, it's time to stop donating money.

  • After the patent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Sunday January 25, 2015 @05:33PM (#48900411) Homepage Journal

    Bell had talked to Watson on the first ever phone call, in Boston, just after Bell had patented the telephone.

    really? He patented it before ever testing it? Same shit, different millennium, eh?

  • by lippydude ( 3635849 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @06:00PM (#48900553)
    "On May 22, 1886 .. Zenas F. Wilber, a former Washington patent examiner, swore in an affidavit that he'd been bribed by an attorney for Alexander Graham Bell to award Bell the patent for the telephone over a rival inventor, Elisha Gray, who'd filed a patent document on the same day as Bell in 1876." ref [washingtonpost.com]

    Bell's telephone sketch [sciencephoto.com]

    Elisha Gray's sketch of a telephone [visualphotos.com]
    • Then as it is now, technological progress was a full-contact sport.

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @07:19PM (#48900981)

      "On May 22, 1886 .. Zenas F. Wilber, a former Washington patent examiner, swore in an affidavit that he'd been bribed by an attorney for Alexander Graham Bell to award Bell the patent for the telephone over a rival inventor, Elisha Gray, who'd filed a patent document on the same day as Bell in 1876." ref [washingtonpost.com] Bell's telephone sketch [sciencephoto.com] Elisha Gray's sketch of a telephone [visualphotos.com]

      You have to admit, both of thoes were pretty sketchy.

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @10:10PM (#48901639)

      On May 22, 1886 .. Zenas F. Wilber, a former Washington patent examiner, swore in an affidavit that he'd been bribed by an attorney for Alexander Graham Bell to award Bell the patent for the telephone over a rival inventor, Elisha Gray, who'd filed a patent document on the same day as Bell in 1876.

      But read on...

      His October 21, 1885 affidavit directly contradicts this story and Wilber claims it was ''given at the request of the Bell company by Mr. Swan, of its counsel'' and he was ''duped to sign it'' while drunk and depressed. However, Wilber's April 8, 1886, affidavit was also sworn to and signed before Thomas W. Swan. These conflicting affidavits discredited Wilber.

      Elisha Gray and Alexander Bell telephone controversy [wikipedia.org]

      There were 600 lawsuits over Bell's patent, none successful, and a bad smell about the business from the start.

      Others also laid claim to inventing versions of the telephone, including a Mr. Rogers, manager of the Pan-Electric Telephone Company. Rogers distributed his company's stock to members of Congress, including Senator Garland, (soon to become Attorney General) in the unstated hope of favorable treatment. If the Bell patent were to be invalidated, the Rogers patent and the Pan-Electric stock could become very valuable.

      On This Day - February 13, 1886 [nytimes.com]

    • But who won the gold star for most awesome art project?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And neither did Elisha Gray.

    The phone was invented in 1860 by Johann Phillip Reiss, a german self-taught engineer and scientist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Philipp_Reis

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @10:08PM (#48901631)

    ... who [cloudfront.net] they got to connect the call?

  • With all due respect to the accomplishment, recall that transcontinental telegraphs had been operating for over half a century prior to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Telegraph), and the transcontinental telephone was strictly a wealthy person's luxury at the time, with a 3-minute call costing USD $20.70 at the time (worth something on the order of USD $400 in today's currency)...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      so, they weren't using their own network.. they were roaming on verizon's?

  • Alexander Graham Bell was a BU professor initially ... interesting writeup at http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archi... [bu.edu].

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