Friday, June 3, 2011

1877 Telephone Experiment

Quite an interesting experiment was made on Wednesday by John Camp, of this office, et al., with a home-made telephone. The apparatus was constructed as follows: two cups about three inches in diameter and four inches deep provided, the ends of which were open; over one end of each of these was stretched a piece of bladder thoroughly dried, through the center of which was pierced a hole with a common needle and a common black linen thread inserted and drawn down tight, being secured by a simple knot in the end. Parties then stationed themselves at a distance of one hundred yards and commenced operations when the conversation could be distinctly heard in any part of the room. Songs were sand and tunes whistled all of which could be as distinctly understood as if performed in the same room.

Does it remind you, as a child, of stringing soup cans and then communicating from one room to the next?

The above article was found in an issue of The Fowlerville Review in 1877. It wasn't but a few years later that individual lines would begin to be strung from one business to another or business to home. In one case, owners of the Spencer Exchange (later named the Spencer House) was connected to the Pere Marquette Depot so they would know when to send the hack in order to pick up customers.

In an 1897 issue of The Fowlerville Review, the following article was found:

A representative of the new state telephone company was in this village on Monday selling coupon books for the new line and met with fair success. He claims that with the copper wire, the lowest conversation can be heard distinctly and the conversation of others using the line may be entirely thrown off. The public station will be located in J.L. Cooper's store and it is expected that the line will be working in 60 days. The message rate under 60 miles will be 10 cents and over that distance 15 cents.

And then, Several new poles have been set in this village and vicinity by the Bell telephone company and new wires also added to the circuit.

And, while these improvements were being made, The telephone company have just erected a fine double booth in J.P. Spencer's store, so that private conversation can be carried over the phone. A new set of instruments have also been put in so that the one doing the talking can sit at ease and adjust the instruments to suit convenience.

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