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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: telephone (2)

Bell telephone prototype

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
10 March 2012
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“Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you."

This remarkably ordinary sentence, spoken by Alexander Graham Bell 136 years ago on 10 March 1876, comprises the first clear bi-directional transmission of speech via telephone. One of Bell's original experimental phones is set to go on display at Scienceworks in the upcoming Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention exhibition.

  Bell Double-Pole Magneto transmitter and receiver Bell Double-Pole Magneto receiver (ST 035633).
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This Bell Double-Pole Magneto receiver is not the one Bell used when uttering that famous first sentence but it is very similar. It too was made in 1876 prior to Bell's first public demonstration of the telephone at Philadelphia's Centennial Exhibition in July of that year. It was used with the transmitter also in the museum's collection.

"These highly significant objects were originally brought to Melbourne by Bell's uncle, Edward Symonds, who visited his nephew's Boston laboratory in August 1876. Bell remained in contact with his uncle afterwards, and Symonds went on to assist in administering Bell's Australian patents," said curator David Demant. The transmitter, receiver and other Bell material were eventually donated to Museum Victoria in 1974 by Symonds' descendants.

"It is nowadays very hard to imagine life before the telephone, so deep has been its social and technological influence," said David.

Victorian Telecommunications Museum visit

Author
by Nicole A
Publish date
13 December 2010
Comments
Comments (7)

This guest post comes from Nicole Alley, who currently works in the Webteam. She is a geek at heart who loves taking photos.

Here in the ICT (Information Communications & Technology) Department, we work with plenty of digital stuff – telephones, computers, software, servers, video cameras, touch screens...you name it. So it was a refreshing change of pace when a group of us visited the Victorian Telecommunications Museum last month to revisit some of the old ways of communicating.

The museum is housed in the Telstra Hawthorn telephone exchange near Glenferrie Station and is managed by Stef Nowak and a group of volunteers who are passionate about preserving Australia's telecommunications heritage. The items come from both Telstra and the volunteer affiliate that manage the collection.

Ken Hoskins gave us a tour through the museum, where we learned about the history and technology of cables, insulators, phones, switchboards, talking clocks, exchanges and more.

Ken Hoskins Ken Hoskins guided us through the history of communication in Australia, from the first telephone to more recent technologies like this VOIP (voice over IP) phone.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There were, of course, telephones galore, showing the evolution of technology: wooden wall phones powered by two enormous batteries, where you had to turn the handle and speak to an operator; black rotary dialers that appear to be coming back in fashion; kids' phones in the shape of cartoon characters; public phones and phone booths; and the ubiquitous mobile phone (remember when they were the size and weight of a brick!?).

Old telephones There's a certain charm to these old telephones.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A highlight was a morse code demonstration from Brian, John and Bob, members of the Victorian Morsecodian Fraternity who meet at the museum every week. They explained how morse code worked and reminisced about the days when they would hop on the red Post Master General bike and deliver the typed messages to their recipients, including some lottery winners. You can see John in action in the video below, turning our names into dits and dahs.


We also met Bob Muir, who showed us the Violano Virtuoso that he is restoring for Museum Victoria. It's a cross between a violin and a piano, and is expected to go on display at Scienceworks next year. Can't wait to hear it!

Violano Bob Muir with the beautiful Violano Virtuoso.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Phone boxes The evolution of the public phone box. I'm sure Superman preferred the wooden red ones to the more modern glass version!
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Rotary diallers Who knew there were so many different styles of rotary diallers?
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Cable cross-section and phone cover Left: This cross-section of a telephone cable housing hundreds of smaller cables looks a bit like liquorice! Right: These dolls were used to hide the "ugliness" of the telephone in the home.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Exchange Eight exchanges built from the 1920s through to the late 90s, including the first ever designed and built electronic exchange in Australia by the old Telstra Research Laboratories.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It's fascinating to see the technology changing so rapidly. I wonder what our phones will look like and what we'll be able to do on them in another five years?

Links:

Victorian Telecommunications Museum

Collections Online: Information & Communication Collection

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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