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Telephones

The telephone was invented in 1876. Most people are familiar with Alexander Graham Bell and his famous first words to his assistant, Thomas Watson, over the telephone: "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." What most people do not know is that another inventor, Elisha Gray, had also invented a device that could transmit speech electronically. Both Bell and Gray rushed their designs to the patent office on the same day, and Bell was awarded the patent first. Gray initiated a lawsuit over the invention of the telephone, which Bell eventually won.

The first telephone exchange and switchboard were introduced in 1878. Early telephones were battery operated or used a cranking device to generate power. They were primarily used by businesses. In the 1890s, the candlestick telephone was invented, making telephone use much easier. After Bell's patents on the telephone expired, telephone use in the United States exploded, and by 1914, the United States led the world in telephone ownership.

The rotary dial phone was introduced in the early 20th century. Telephones changed in appearance and function to accommodate improvements in technology and changes in home fashions. Touch tone dialing was introduced in the '60s. The first cellular phone call was placed in 1973, and today, cell phones have overtaken landline telephones as the primary method of communication.


Quick Facts

  • In 1876, plagued by lawsuits, Bell offered to sell his patent rights to the telephone to Western Union for $100,000, but Western Union said no
  • Disney's famous Mickey Mouse phone was introduced in 1976 and sold throughout the '80s. A Mickey Mouse phone in excellent condition currently sells for $50 to $100
  • An L.M. Ericsson desk telephone from 1895 sold at auction for $19,200. This model had a cylindrical shape and ornate lithographs, earning it the nickname Coffee Grinder

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Sellers Who Sell Telephones


Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

Florida Auction and Estate Sales

Florida Auction and Estate Sales