Original telephone (replica), 1875

glass negative

Rosenfeld and Sons
1917-05-03 (negative); 1875 (date of telephone)
overall: 8 x 10 in.; 20.32 x 25.4 cm

8 x 10 glass plate negative taken by Rosenfeld and Sons. Image taken as part of long term commissioned work and documentation for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, ranging from 1910 through the 1940s. View of a replica of the first telephone, designed by Bell and Watson in June 1875. Users spoke into a hole in the bottom of the telephone, sound struck a diaphragm attached to one end of a steel reed positioned over the pole of an electromagnet. Vibrations in electric current travelled down a wire to a reed receiver. This phone produced only a weak sound. Plate on replica shown hear reads: "THIS TELEPHONE IS A DUPLICATE OF THE FIRST INSTRUMENT THROUGH WHICH SPEECH SOUNDS WERE TRANS-MITTED ELECTRONICALLY, 1875". Handwritten on original negative sleeve: "5883 5/3/17 / 477--4 / First Tel Instrument 1875 / Tel. Co. / Box 477".


Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection

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