Chronography of Telephones, Telegraphy, Radio and TV Broadcasting
Page last modified 6 February 2023
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See appendix below for Telegraph Lines
29 June 2007, Apple launched the iPhone,
20 May 1999, Bluetooth was announced. See also Computing
14 February 1989. The first of 24 satellites for the Global Positioning System were placed in orbit.
22 August 1989, British Telecom launched the first �pocket phones� which worked within 100 metres of a base station.
3 February 1989, British Telecom banned �chatlines�, because some people got addicted to them and ran up huge bills which they couldn�t pay.� One 12-year-old ran up a bill of �6,000. The Internet had yet to arrive.
1 January 1985, The first mobile phone call in the UK was made, by Ernie Wise to Vodafone.
23 October 1984. The end was announced for the old �H� shaped TV aerials, used for the old 405-line service. The 43 transmitters broadcasting on this frequency were to be closed to make way for the growing number of mobile and car phones.
14 April� 1983, The first cordless telephone was introduced in Britain.
29 July 1982, Vladimir Zworykin, Russian-born US pioneer of TV technology, died aged 92.
1979, The Japanese technology company Matsushita took out a patent for the first flat screen pocket television, using a liquid crystal display for the screen.
21 December 1980. A Bill was presented in the UK Parliament separating the UK post from the telephone services.
24 September� 1979. A remote control cordless telephone, imported from the USA to UK stores, was declared illegal in Britain as it had not been allocated a radio frequency. It was on sale for �260.
10 January 1977, In the UK, a miniature portable TV with a 5 cm screen went on sale.
8 April� 1975, Pagers were launched in Britain.
3 April� 1973, The world�s first ever mobile phone call was made, in New York.
15 October 1967. In Tokyo the Nippon Electric Co was offering the world�s first commercial television telephone.
8 October 1965, The UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson made the first telephone call as the �2 million, 620 foot tall, Post Office Tower in London�s Tottenham Court Road opened.
18 December 1963. The push button phone was introduced.
1960, Transistors made it feasible to construct very small TVs. Sony now pioneered an 8-inch transistorised TV set.
5 September� 1959, Trunk call telephone dialling began in Britain, at Bristol.
5 December 1958. The first STD telephone exchange in the UK opened.� It was in Bristol, and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II calling up the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.
11 December 1952. John Mulin and Wayne Johnson at the Bing Crosby Enterprises Laboratory in Beverly Hills, California demonstrated the first video recorder.
28 May 1951, RCA had sued the FCC in an effort to stop the commencement of colour TV broadcasts in CBS format (see 11 July 1949), but this day the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of CBS. However the delay in starting colour broadcasts had been crucial; as in that time many more black and white sets had been sold. When CBS did begin colour broadcasting on 25 June 1951, over 10 million black and white sets could not receive its broadcasts. Viewer numbers and advertising revenues were disappointing, and in October 1951 CBS halted colour transmissions.
29 September� 1950, The first automatic telephone answering machine was tested by the US Bell Telephone |Company.
11 July 1949, In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began hearings regarding the possible introduction of a colour TV service. There were three possible systems, the Field Sequential Method of CBS, the Dot Sequential approach of RCA, and the Line Sequential proposed by Color Television Incorporated (CTI). The CBS Field System was the simplest, and produced better quality images than the other two methods, so in 1950 the FCC adopted the CBS method. However the CBS approach was incompatible with current black and white TV sets, whereas the other two methods were not, see 28 May 1951.
25 August 1949. The UK began experiments with colour TV transmission.
9 October 1947. The first radio-telephone call was made, from a car to a plane, above Wimington, Delaware, USA. However radio contact between a person in a car and a person on the ground had been made in 1922. This was at Brooklands motor circuit where a Morse message was transmitted from a racing car at 80mph. The aerial was on large poles propped up on the car.
14 June 1946. Death of John Logie Baird, at Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, aged 58. He was born on 13 August 1888 at Helensburgh, Scotland. In 1926 he demonstrated the first true television before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, following developments on the first prototype in his laboratory in Hastings in 1924. In 1939 Baird demonstrated colour television, and had reportedly developed stereoscopic television by April 1946.
22 August 1940, Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of wireless telegraphy, died.
17 February 1938, John Logie Baird demonstrated a prototype colour television.
20 July 1937, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist who pioneered the use of radio communications, died in Rome, aged 63.
26 February 1935. Radar (Radio Detection And Ranging) was tested at Daventry. Engineers had reported that passing aircraft distorted radio transmissions. The BBC transmitter at Daventry was used this day by Robert Watson Watt to detect a bomber 8 miles away at 10,000 feet. See 20/3/1934.
20/3/1934, Radar was first demonstrated in Kiel Harbour, Germany. See 26 February 1935.
14 February 1933, The world�s first speaking clock became available to telephone users in the Paris area.
30 October 1928, Static pictures were first transmitted by radio. Receivers required a special device called a Fultograph, attached to the radio set. This utilised a revolving drum upon which a stylus marked half-tone lines on special paper. The result was about as good as a mediocre picture in an underfunded local newspaper, and the device never became popular.
12 December 1927. The first automatic telephone exchange opened, in Holborn, London.
27 January 1926. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, aged 38, demonstrated the principle of transmitting moving images by radio. The demonstration was to members of the Royal Institution, at his workshop in Soho, London. He called this �television�.
30 October 1925. In his workshop in London, John Logie Baird achieved the first TV pictures using a dummy�s head. He then persuaded a 15 year old office boy, William Taynton, to sit in front of the camera to become the first live person captured on TV.
12 February 1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first US President to deliver a speech on radio.
30 December 1924, Radio photographs were first transmitted from Britain to the USA.
26 July 1923, John Logie Baird patented a system for transmitting pictures by �mechanical television�. The transmitter and receiver both had a spinning disc with 24 holes; pictures were sent by photoelectric cells. The principle was the same as making repeated static images �move� by rapidly flicking the pages of a book; the persistence of images in the human eye gives the illusion of motion. Unfortunately the picture quality was mediocre, the flickering gave viewers a headache, and the intense light needed to film anything was exhausting for the cast.
2 August 1922. Death of Alexander Graham Bell, aged 75, at his home near Baddock, Nova Scotia. He was born on 3/3/1847 and patented the telephone on 7/3/1876. Many others had been working on the idea of sending speech by wire but Bell was the first to succeed. With his assistant Thomas Walsop, Bell began making improvements to the telegraph system, and formed the Bell Telephone Company in 1872. Bell also invented the photophone transmission of sound, precursor of fibre-optics, as well as techniques of teaching speech to the deaf.
14 February 1922. Marconi began first regular radio broadcasts from England (Writle, Essex). This invention had been patented by Marconi on 22 June 1896. See 14 December 1922.
29 July 1914, The first test call was made on the new transcontinental telephone line between New York and San Francisco.
1912, The first automatic telephone exchange in London was installed, with 480 lines.
1911, Advances in telegraphic technology meant that a message could be sent from New York to London in 30 seconds, at a cost just 0.5% of the 1866 level.
8 May 1911, A direct telephone link was established between New York and Denver.
1909, The first Strowger automatic telephone exchange in Europe was installed, in Munich, Germany.
18 October 1907, Wireless telegraphy began between the USA and Ireland.
1905, The Cathode Ray Tube was first produced. It is a vacuum tube in which cathode rays can be projected onto a fluorescent screen. It was later to be used for television.
31 October 1902, The Pacific Cable was completed at Suva.
12 December 1901. The first transatlantic wireless message (the letter �S�, three dots in Morse, was continually transmitted) was sent from a164 foot aerial at Poldhu, Cornwall to Signal Hill, St John�s, Newfoundland, a distance of 1,800 miles, where it was received by Marconi on an aerial suspended from a kite.� Three previous transmission attempts, in which the aerial had been raised by balloon, were unsuccessful, thwarted by bad weather.
6 February 1901. Paris installed the first public telephones at railway stations.
1900, The first automatic telephone exchange was installed in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It had 10,000 lines.
12 December 1896, Guigliemo Marconi gave his first public demonstration of radio, at Tonybee Hall, east London.
2 June 1896, Marconi was granted patent no.12039 for his system of communication using radio waves. The maximum communications range was then about 12 miles.
9 January 1894, The first battery-powered telephone switchboard was installed in Lexington, Massachusetts.
10/3/1891, US undertaker Almon Brown Strowger patented the Strowger Switch, enabling automated dialling. He was motivated by the fact that the wife of a rival undertaker worked at the local phone exchange, and was diverting calls for his business to her husband.
18 October 1892, Telephone services began between New York and Chicago.
13 August 1889. The coin operated phone was patented in the USA by William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut.
13 August 1888. Birth of television pioneer John Logie Baird in Helensburgh, Firth of Clyde, Scotland.
3 May 1888, Sir Charles Bright, English telegraph engineer, died (born 8 June 1832).
1887, Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of radio waves,
31 December 1887, US telephone listings reached 200,000.
15 January 1880. The first telephone directory in Britain was published by the London Telephone Company. It contained 255 entries.
6 September� 1879, The first British telephone exchange opened, in Lombard Street, London.
21 February 1878, The first telephone directory was issued by the New Haven Telephone Company, USA. It contained 50 subscribers.
14 January 1878. Queen Victoria was given a demonstration of Alexander Graham Bell�s new invention, the telephone, at Osborne House.
29 December 1877. Thomas Alva Edison made the first recording of a human voice. He spoke Mary had a little lamb into his phonograph. Edison was working to improve the efficiency of the telegraph transmitter, and noticed that the machine gave off sounds resembling the spoken word when played at high speed. He wondered if he could record a telephone message. He attached the diaphragm of a telephone receiver to a needle, using the needle to prick paper to record a message. He then progressed to using a cylinder wrapped in tinfoil instead of paper, which succeeded in playing back the nursery rhyme he had recorded. He patented this device on 6 December 1877.
10/3/1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first telephone message to his assistant, from 5 Exeter Place, Boston, Massachusetts. The words were �Come here Watson, I want you�.
7/3/1876. The first telephone was patented by the American Alexander Graham� Bell, who was born on 3/3/1847. Bell was just a few hours ahead of a similar patent by Elisha Gray.
19 October 1875, Sir Charles Wheatstone, English physicist who pioneered telegraphy, died in Paris.
25 April� 1874, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist and radio pioneer, was born in Bologna.
26 August 1873, Birth of Lee de Forest, inventor of the Audion vacuum tube which made broadcasting possible.
2 April� 1872, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, American inventor of the Morse Code for telegraphy, died in New York City aged 80.
3/3/1847, The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was born in Edinburgh.� He was the son of a teacher of elocution.
24 May 1844. The inventor Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, from his home in Washington to a friend in Baltimore, 40 miles away. The message was �What hath God wrought�.
18 October 1842. The first telegraph cable was laid by Samuel Morse. It ran from Governor�s Island to The Battery across New York Harbour, and lasted only 24 hours; 200 feet of it was wrecked when a ship weighed anchor.
6 January 1838. Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated the telegraph. He had begun work on this device in 1832.
8 June 1832, Sir Charles Bright, English telegraph engineer, was born (died 3 May 1888).
6 February 1802, Sir Charles Wheatstone, physicist and pioneer of telegraphy, was born in Gloucester.
27 April� 1791, Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
Appendix� Telegraph lines,
15 May 1965, New Zealand inaugurated the North-South Island undersea cable, 354 milkes across the Cook Strait.
16 October 1963, The trans-Atlantic cable USA to UK opened from Tickerton, New Jersey, to Cornwall.
4 July 1903, The Pacific Cable opened between Honolulu and Manila.
1 January 1903, The Pacific Cable opened between Honolulu and San Francisco.
7 July 1896, Sir John Pender, British cable pioneer, died in Footscray, Kent (born 10 September 1816).
1883, A telegraph cable opened between the USA and Brazil.
1872, A telegraph line opened connecting Adelaide with Port Darwin in Australia; it was soon extended to link Australia with Java, India and Europe. London was now connected to Melbourne.
1871, A telegraph cable was laid from Vladivostok to Shanghai, Hong Kongt, and Singapore, also serving Nagasaki.
18 February 1876. A direct telegraph link was set up between Britain and New Zealand.
1869, The first successful cable was laid between the USA and France. An earlier cable had been laid in 1858 but ceased functioning after a few weeks.
27 July 1866, The Atlantic Telegraph Cable was completed. This connected London to New York
1861, Western Union completed a telegraph line between New York and San Francisco. This ended the Pony Express enterprise.
1851, The first successful telegraph cable was laid under the English Channel, between Dover and Calais. This connected London with Paris.
1848, Telegraph communication opened between New York and Chicago.
10 September 1816, Sir John Pender, British cable pioneer, was born (died 7 July 1896 in Footscray, Kent).