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From Alexander Graham Bell to the iPhone 6 - the history of the telephone in five objects

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There are now more phones in the world than human beings on the planet. Including an estimated 250 million iPhones in use. But back in 1875 there was only one: the gallows frame telephone pioneered by Alexander Graham Bell. It was not good enough to distinguish intelligible speech, but it was a crucial breakthrough in the development of the phone – Graham Bell was able to send not just a single-tone beep, but actual sounds between one room and another. He did it using an electromagnetic signal, which was picked up by a metal reed, which vibrated against a cloth diaphragm. The gallows frame telephone is one of the exhibits at the Science Museum’s new gallery called Information Age, which has been opened by the Queen. Other exhibits highlight how the telephone has changed from a landline device – linked to people’s houses via copper wires, which telephone operators would then connect by hand at an exchange. The last manual telephone exchange did not close in Britain until 1976, when the Portree exchange, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland shut down. And as recently as 1973, less than half the households in Britain had a landline telephone. Many people had to use the phone box at the end of their street or borrow the one in the local pub to make a telephone call. The Information Age gallery also includes the earliest ‘mobile’ phones, used by the Army and the police force in the 1930s. Back then calls were made over radio waves. Also featured are the notorious “brick” telephones, including the Vodafone used on New Year’s Day, 1985 to make the very first mobile phone call across a cellular network in Britain. Watch the video to see the history of the telephone in five objects. Get the latest headlines http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ Subscribe to The Telegraph http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=telegraphtv Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/telegraph.co.uk Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/telegraph Follow us on Google+ https://plus.google.com/102891355072777008500/ Telegraph.co.uk and YouTube.com/TelegraphTV are websites of The Daily Telegraph, the UK's best-selling quality daily newspaper providing news and analysis on UK and world events, business, sport, lifestyle and culture.