World’s First Long-Distance Phone Call Was Made 142 Years Ago Today

PA / Smithsonian

It was on this day in 1877 that Alexander Graham Bell made the first long distance telephone call between Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.

Nearly a year after demonstrating the ability to call his assistant Thomas Watson in the next room, the Scottish-born inventor showcased how his telephone worked to a paying audience.

Bell called The Boston Globe from the Lyceum theatre where Watson answered the phone. After the presentation, a Globe reporter sent the first ever newspaper report by telephone. Henry M Butchelder submitted his report to colleague A.B. Fletcher from the Salem end of the line.

According to Poynter, Bell’s telephone was a wooden box about ten-by-eight inches with a hole in the front. The caller would speak and listen through the same hole, with Watson creating a ‘thumper’ that was used to signal that a call was coming through.

The presentation was the first time that the general public had ever seen a telephone call. After this call the distances between phone calls was getting longer as the years passed.

In 1915, the two men had successfully talked on the first transcontinental phone call. They talked over a 3,400-mile wire between New York and San Francisco.

The pair had come a long way from the 25 miles between Boston and Salem, with the record-breaking day proving to be an important day for the history of the telephone.

At a time where most people are too afraid to answer a phone call, back then it was groundbreaking that two people were able to speak to each other through a box.