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News & Blog

A brief history of the telephone

In preparation for the nostalgic historical romp of a weekend that is Goodwood Revival, we’re going to be looking at the history of telecommunications. 

The telephone has been wrapped up in an ongoing journey of evolution since its invention in 1876. Before the telephone, the telegraph reigned in the communications world; it allowed coded messages to be sent through wires as electrical impulses – but this set up could only take a single message down a wire at a time. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the telegraph was booming, but the race was on to find something more efficient.

Alexander Graham Bell along with many other scientists were working on this, and many invented the phone at around the same time, but Bell managed to patent his invention first. Predictably, the device took off incredibly fast, with deals being sealed in most major US cities within a matter of days. Did you know that the speech of the first ever telephone test call was just “Watson come here, I want you!”.

Early phone calls from the home had to involve an operator, who manually connected you to the phone line of the person you wished to talk to. However, soon afterwards in 1891, automatic switches took this over. At this time, a telephone at home would have consisted of just the receiver. Then, in the late 1920s, the classic receiver and transceiver model arrived, allowing users to operate their calls from one spot within their own home.

In 1927, the transatlantic phone service was inaugurated for commercial service, connecting the UK and the USA. In 1955, an impressive feat of engineering resulted in cables running underwater to connect the two continents – these cables were the beginning of a system which would go on to connect up the whole world.

By 1969, 90% US and UK houses had a telephone, making the nations very well connected. However, communications were yet to go wireless. It was a huge breakthrough in 1973, then, when the first disconnected phone outside of a car came into existence, followed by widespread mobiles a decade later. The first mobile model in 1983 was called the Dinotek 8000 X, and cost the equivalent of about £8000 in today’s money.

Mobile phones then continued to evolve, getting smaller and cheaper as we raced into the 21st century. I’m sure it is safe to say that now it is difficult to imagine a world without them. Much of our personal and work lives revolve around our little devices, and they are getting more and more advanced by the year.

To see some of the models that have been mentioned here and truly get into the glamourous and historical spirit of Goodwood, come and visit us at stand 282 and have a chat.

If you don't have tickets yet, we still have some held back for our customers. Please contact Beckly Oakley at

Posted on 16 August 2018