My project is a website about the telephone - how it was invented, who invented it, how it works, the changes it made in people's lives, and the other inventions that came from it. The telephone relates to this year's theme "Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History" because it was a completely new way to communicate, because scholars and the public discussed whether it was good or bad, and because it completely changed the way we interact with each other. The telephone draws both negative and positive reactions from the public. It allows people to do things faster, do more things in a day and sometimes more things at the same time, and brings people both closer together and further apart. Many people still see the telephone as an interruption or a nuisance even though it saves time and lives. The telephone also led to other inventions, like Teletype machines, facsimile machines, the Internet and e-mail through computers, and mobile or cellular phones. The telephone is important in history because it does not take any special training to work it - it can be used by anyone who speaks and hears, which includes most people.
The idea for the telephone as my project came to me when a classmate brought up the technology revolution during a class discussion. I chose this topic, instead of a war as revolution, because it was nonviolent and unique. There are a large number of primary and secondary sources about the telephone, and my parents and grandparents experienced many of the changes brought about from the 1940's to the present day. I chose to write a web site because it allowed me to show my research in writing, pictures, and audio.
Most of my information was found in books and online on the Internet. I ordered three books from the Barnes and Noble Online Store, and I checked out another three books from the Moreno Valley Public Library. I did Internet searches by using Yahoo! and AltaVista under the subject headings Telephone History, Telephone Clip Art, Telephone Inventors, and Telephones. The interviews with my parents and grandparents helped me understand the changes the telephone and other inventions had on their lives and the way business has changed during the last half of the 1900's. These interviews were especially helpful with understanding how people felt about learning how to use the equipment the telephone helped create.
One of the surprising things I learned was Alexander Graham Bell was not the only or first inventor. Philipp Reis made a telephone about fifteen years before Bell, and Elisha Gray filed for a telephone patent on the same day as Bell, only a few hours later. Thomas Edison patented his telephone in England because Bell only filed in the United States. Also surprising was the number of people involved in electricity uses, switchboard and telephone designs, and different methods of sending a telephone signal - all to make the telephone easier to use and available to more people.