Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there were limited ways to communicate with people who weren’t in your cave. Long distance communication started with trained saber tooth tigers delivering messages between colonies of Neanderthals. Most of these message went something like “Your friend was delicious” and weren’t really all that healthy for those on the receiving end. Also, being cats, and being full, saber tooth tigers generally didn’t bother actually delivering the messages. All around a major fail. (It is worth noting that the term #FailTiger never caught on.)

Early telecommunication with tin cans DearKidLoveMom.comThe next major invention was the tin can telephone which worked almost as badly as saber tooth delivery, but with a far lower death rate.

Then along came Alexander G. Bell. He was at one point a professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at the Boston University School of Oratory (bet you didn’t know that. It’s OK. I didn’t know BU had a School of Oratory). He was also a major twit about American Sign Language which pretty much erases all the points he got for being affiliated with BU (imho).

Anyhoo, being a lazy dude, Alex went on to invent the telephone so he could call Mr. Watson without bellowing or getting up. It’s also worth noting that Bell may not have been the inventor of the telephone, but he’s the best known for it and what is history if not generally inaccurate and based on a good story?

telephone-old-two-piece-v2Since then, people have been fascinated with using the telephone. In the early days, telephones involved calling the operator who then had the opportunity (almost never taken) of not listening in on your calls.

telephone-black-rotaryThen someone invented dials and we didn’t have to go through the operator anymore except to request phone numbers or to dial internationally. Telephones were black and were wired into the phone lines in your wall which meant you couldn’t travel very far while you talked on the phone. Telephone time was therefore limited by bladder capacity and parents yelling “Git Off The PHONE! It’s Your Sister’s Turn!”

telephone-princess-phoneThe princess phone was a big step forward in telephonic hardware in that it was stylish. Talking still worked mostly the same way, but now it was just prettier. Phone time was still limited by parental controls (“E-nough!”) and cost since long distance calls were expensive.

telephone-payphone-bankWhen you weren’t home, you generally had to use a pay phone to reach anyone. Pay phone banks existed everywhere and people stood near each other trying to hide their own conversation while eavesdropping on other conversations. (Kind of like today when people talk on their cell phone in public only imagine everyone lined up and occasionally putting coins into the phones.)

telephone-black-old-cellNow we have communication devices that can surf the internet, take notes, text, play games, and pretty much do everything except make coffee. But the important point, dear kid, is that you can still use your phone to (wait for it) make phone calls. ‘Tis true. You hold the phone slightly differently than you do to text but it’s basically the same concept. You speak into the speak-y part and someone far away can hear you and respond in kind. Amazing.

Current telephony “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.” It’s still kind of condescending. That’s what you get from a dude who dissed sign language.

Call your mother when you get a minute.

Love, Mom

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