When the first phone call was made on March 10, 1876, people couldn’t believe it. Being able to communicate with people across the United States was a reality. By 1915, everyone was chatting with each other about trivial nonsense. The next step was being able to chat with folks overseas.
Hearing your voice
While it’s simple to chat with someone in Dubai or Melbourne today, it was unthinkable in the 1920s. Honestly, many people in the United States didn’t feel like talking with folks outside of their bubble. World leaders, however, saw a possible phone line between countries as a quicker way of communicating than telegraphs.
To many, telegraph lines were a nightmare. Many of the cables would break, which meant messages would never get sent. In 1915, Bell Labs engineers managed to make history by connecting Virginia and Paris via voice transmission. Using what they learned, they decided to use a telephone line with their next connection.
This is only a test
Unfortunately, Bell Labs hit a major snafu with World War I. During this battle, many important resources needed were destroyed or simply missing. In 1920, they were able to begin installing lines to make this dream a reality.
On March 7, 1926, they were able to hold the first ever transatlantic telephone call. This two-hour conversation between London and New York was an experiment to work out the kinks. We’re not sure what they spoke about, but we’re guessing it was about whose burgers are the best.
Hanging on the telephone
After a successful test call, it was time to unleash this to the world. On January 7, 1927, Bells Labs had the first commercial phone call between London and New York. Bell Labs president Walter S Gifford, who was based in NY, spoke to London based Sir Evelyn Murray. Thousands of people lined up to communicate with some of their friends across the way.
During the talk, Gifford gave a very chilling prediction of the future. “Distance doesn’t mean anything anymore. We are on the verge of a very high-speed world… people will use up their lives in a much shorter time, they won’t have to live so long,” he said.