Are phones still phones?


I ran across one of those standard Canadian brag lists, with one of the old faithfuls being how the telephone was invented by (naturalised) Canooker Alexander Graham Bell.

And I was wondering, is any of his original technology employed in current telephone systems, or has it all been replaced?


Signals are now digital and multiplexed and transmitted in a different way than back in the day. You still have a speaker and a microphone, and “lines”.


He was Italian. Everyone knows that.


The other day at a very traditional noodle place two elderly neighbors met and one was scolding the other saying: you called me and expected me to answer?! What generation do you think we live in! Send me a LINE!

Almost choked in my soup.




The only thing worse than the new generation not having social skills is they always feel the need to communicate in pictures…you know how much internet goo that wastes in comparison to simple text…dammit.


I just thought it was funny and pertained to auntie Peng’s little anecdote. Believe me, I’m nowhere near the “new generation”.

Besides, that picture does have simple text. :idunno:


Technically speaking, modern phones(smart phones) are pocket computers that can make phone calls.


Hard to say I think, the telephone came at around the same time as the microphone and speaker. That’s not to say he invented either, but then again I believe he was working on both areas for years and had patents for designs.

There were many others doing very similar work, I don’t think he was the smartest of the bunch, end to end communication seemed to be his thing and as soon as the microphone and speaker were invented, since this was what he was working on and unable to actually invent himself, although he did end up hiring some smart assistants, he was the first to put the blocks together and say done.

First of the patent trolls one might argue.


Interesting question. I would say probably “no”…

If “Telephone System” refers to the network, then (as @mad_masala mentioned) then really “no”: Everything is digital nowadays. Sometimes metal wires (similar to Bell’s) are still used for data transmission :wink: although lots of transmission probably is via optical fibers instead.

If it refers to the telephones themselves (Mobile/Smartphones or landline phones), then I guess it depends on how close you look. Some modern phones’ voice output and input systems could be considered still a bit similar to technologies used in some of Bell’s phone designs:

microphone = sound changing an electrical resistance

speaker = electromagnetically moved membrane

The actual implementation is quite different though, for example MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) devices as microphones in many mobile phones.


Yeah, this is what I was thinking.
Given that original landline phones didn’t actually use microphones and speakers (the same thing, really) as we know them, or utilize the mains supply to work (why the phones still worked even when the power was out), it occurred to me that the vast majority of currently deployed “telephone” systems (I’m not even including mobiles) actually share practically nothing with the technology AG Bell is normally credited with inventing.
As for Bell being a “patent troll”, Brother @Mick, that designation is probably a lot better suited to the guy who pretty much invented IP raiding, Thomas Edison. :wink:



If Jesus came back, would he have a phone?