how the instrument itself changed and improved

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It is almost hard to imagine that with all the ingenuity Bell and Watson had going for them, the first commercial telephone instrument was nothing more than a wood box about the size of a shoe box, with one hole on the end for both talking and listening. On the other hand, once the popularity of the phone increased, there were many rapid improvements. This is a brief history of how the instrument itself changed and improved.

Recognizing the concern of the dizzying head turning with the first box phone to conduct a conversation, some of the first instructions stated, "When you aren't talking, you should be listening!"

Another concern was signaling the party. With this box phone, signaling was done by tapping on the diaphragm with a pencil. Clearly an awkward and potentially damaging situation. Thomas Watson quickly solved the problem by installing a small hammer, a "thumper" on the edge of the phone.

Still, the tapping was awkward and weak. And the single hole used for both the transmitter/receiver was almost impossible to use. So, Watson designed a magneto to send a signal to the switchboard, and produced a wooden handle that served as both transmitter and receiver that could be transferred from the mouth to the ear. This phone, which was mounted on the wall, is now known as the "Coffin" telephone.

Very soon after in 1879, the "Blake" transmitter went into use. This was a great improvement over the combination wooden handle transmitter/receiver. However these separate components had to be hard-wired together, including hooking up to an acid-filled "wet" cell battery.

Thousands of these phones went into service and were manufactured until 1882, when the components were mounted on a wood backboard. The top box consisted of the switch hook and signaling magneto and bells, the middle box was the Blake transmitter, and the bottom box held the glass wet-cell batteries. This was also the first phone manufactured by the Western Electric company for the Bell Company.

This basic design was used right up to the turn of the century, when the large and heavy "three-box" and "two-box" phone gave way to a smaller single box phone that utilized the inside of the box for all the components.

Another design was introduced in the 1880s: the desk phone. These first desk phones were beautifully designed works of art. Although simplified in the 1890s, the phones still had wonderful curves and bright nickel-plating.

In the mid-1890s, "common battery" and "automatic" systems were developed. This meant three different types of systems could be used to signal the operator or party. First, the original "magneto" system which utilized the magneto to send an electric signal to the switchboard via turning the crank on the side of the phone. Second, the "common battery" system, which utilized electrical power in the central office for automatically signaling the operator when the receiver was removed from the switch hook. And finally, the "automatic" system. Simply put, push buttons or a dial was used to directly signal your party, eliminating the operator.

At the turn of the century the phone was streamlined and became more of a functional tool for the home as opposed to a decorative piece. –¶e can perform many functions with new phones, such as learn new things, communicat—É continuously, meet and talk to strangers. All these are the possibilities of our world.