1. 1667: Mechanical Telephones

In the 1800’s, the acoustic tin can telephone was used to transmit sound with mechanical vibrations over a piece of string. The earliest such acoustic phone actually dates back to 1667 – an invention by Robert Hooke.

Photo: Tin Can Telephone (source: public domain).

2. 1861: Reis’ Telephone

In 1861, Johann Philipp Reis developed the Reis phone in Germany. However, it does not become a practical device for widespread use.

Photo: Reis telephone (source: public domain).

3. 1876: Bell’s Patented Large Box Telephone

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell obtained the first patent for the telephone in the United States. The patent lead to the commercially successful production of the phone.

Photo: Bell’s large box telephone (source: National Museum of American History).

4. 1930: Western Electric Rotary Phone

In the 1930’s the rotary phone became the most widely used telephone device.

Photo: Western Electric rotary phone (Creative Commons: Lovellama).

5. 1960’s: Touch Tone Telephone

By the 1960’s, the rotary phone was gradually replaced by the touch tone telephone.

Photo: Touch tone phone (Creative Commons: Mcheath).

6. 1973: First Mobile Phone

In 1973, Motorola developed the first mobile phone.

Photo: First mobile phone (Creative Commons: Roco Shen).

7. 1993: Bell South Smart Phone

The telephone was combined with other digital devices such as a personal digital assistant to produce the smartphone.

Photo: Bell South Simon smartphone (source: public domain).

8. 1995: Voice Over Internet Protocol Software

In 1995, Vocaltec produced the first internet phone software. Network manufacturers such as Cisco began to produce network hardware that could better manage VOIP.

Photo: Cisco7960G phone using VOIP technology (source: DigitalTelephony).

9. Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills

Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. When you are done, click the box below for a list of main ideas.


How did you do? With practice, you should be able to identify many of the major ideas. You may even discover some important ideas that aren’t listed.

10. Bibliography

Voice Over IP History, VOIP Insights.


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