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telephone (tèl´e-fon´) noun
An instrument that converts voice and other sound signals into a form that can be transmitted to remote locations and that receives and reconverts waves into sound signals.
Often used to modify another noun: telephone connections; a telephone call.
telephoned, telephoning, telephones verb, transitive
1. To speak with (a person) by telephone.
2. To initiate or make a telephone connection with; place a call to.
3. To transmit (a message, for example) by telephone.
To engage in communication by telephone.
- tel´ephon´er noun
Word History: When one telephones someone else, one never gives a second thought to the linguistic and etymological processes illustrated by the word telephone. To begin with, the noun telephone is one of a class of technological and scientific words that are made up of combining forms, in this case tele- and -phone. These forms are derived from classical languages: tele- is from the Greek combining form têle- or têl-, a form of têle, meaning "afar, far off," while -phone is from Greek phonê, "sound, voice." Such words derived from classical languages can be put together in French or German, for example, as well as in English. Which language actually gave birth to them cannot always be determined. In this case French telephone (about 1830) seems to have priority. The word was used for an acoustic apparatus, as it originally was in English (1844). Alexander Graham Bell appropriated the word for his invention in 1876, and in 1877 we have the first instance of the verb telephone meaning "to speak to by telephone." The verb is an example of a linguistic process called functional shift. This occurs when we use a noun as a verb, an adjective as a noun, or a noun as an adjective. Thus, we are changing the syntactic function of the word, just as we do when we telephone a friend.
APHRODISIAC TELEPHONE. "telephonic apparatuses will be replaced by lobsters, whose advanced state will be rendered visible by phosphorescent plaques, vertible flytrap truffle-grounds." (Salvador Dalí)
What's important is that IT talks. It is not that a person talks through it, because in a certain sense you are channeling your voice through a wire when you are speaking. From the perspective of the cultural imagination, the telephone is another instance of the connection between communication at a distance and the electromagnetic imagination.
It produces an occult overspill, if you will. Does it talk or do we talk through it? Are those vibrations us or are they, in a sense, ghosts of ourselves or doppelgangers? That is again the uncanny that creeps in. When you wake up with the phone ringing in the middle of the night, there is a kind of spectral horror more profound than simply the fact of a loud noise. It is the feeling that I am getting a message, but that I am not who I normally am, because I am swathed in darkness and dream. Crank callers also exploit the telephone's uncanny powers. If you have ever been harassed continually by people who don't speak up on the phone, this can very quickly lead into all sorts of paranoid and disturbing feelings. You are constantly picking up the receiver and NO ONE IS THERE, a very spectral absence.
Erik Davis - _Spirital Telegraphs And The Technology Of Communication_ lecture
Play some music with your telephone:
Telephone, instrument that sends and receives voice messages and data. Telephones convert speech and data to electrical energy, which is sent great distances. All telephones are linked by complex switching systems called central offices or exchanges, which establish the pathway for information to travel. Telephones are used for casual conversations, to conduct business, and to summon help in an emergency. About half of the information passing through telephone lines occurs entirely between special-purpose telephones, such as computers with modems, which transmit digital information over telephone lines to other computers, and facsimile machines, or fax machines, which produce duplicates of documents at a distant point.
Parts of a Telephone
A basic telephone set contains a transmitter that transfers the caller's voice; a receiver that amplifies sound from an incoming call; a rotary or push-button dial; a ringer or alerter; and a small assembly of electrical parts that keeps the caller's voice from sounding too loud. If it is a two-piece telephone set, the transmitter and receiver are mounted in the handset, the ringer is typically in the base, and the dial may be in either the base or handset. The handset cord connects the base to the handset, and the line cord connects the telephone to the telephone line.
More sophisticated telephones may vary from this pattern. In a cordless phone, the handset cord is replaced by a radio link between the handset and base, which allows a caller to move about in a limited area while on the telephone. A cellular phone has extremely miniaturized components that make it possible to combine the base and handset into one handheld unit, allowing even more mobility. A large business will usually have its own switching machine called a Private Branch Exchange (PBX), with hundreds or possibly thousands of lines, all of which can be reached by dialing one number. The telephones used by small businesses, which do not have their own PBX, must incorporate the capability of accessing several telephone lines and are called multiline sets.
Making a Telephone Call
A telephone call starts when the caller lifts a handset off the base. This sends a flow of electrical current to the exchange, which returns a dial tone. The caller then uses the dial to enter the telephone number of the called party. The switching equipment activates a ringer on the called party's line. When the called party answers the telephone, the exchange sets up a connection between the parties. When one or both parties hang up, the exchange removes the connection and notifies billing equipment of the call if appropriate.
Before automatic exchanges were invented, all calls were placed through manual exchanges staffed by switchboard operators. Today in the United States all telephone subscribers are served by automatic computerized exchanges, which perform the functions of the human operator. Transmission systems deliver enough energy so that speech or data is transmitted clearly and free from noise. Analog transmission, in which speech or data is converted directly into a varying electrical current, is suitable for local calls. For long-distance calls, the signal is digitized, or converted to a series of encoded pulses.
A signal may be transmitted via coaxial and fiber-optic cables and microwave and longwave radio signals. A coaxial wire is an efficient transmission system. Fiber-optic cable transmits energy in the form of light pulses. Optical fibers can handle tens of thousands of conversations simultaneously. Before coaxial cables were invented, very powerful longwave (low frequency) radio stations were used for intercontinental calls. Such calls were very expensive. Microwave radio has the ability to inexpensively handle a large number of simultaneous conversations over the same link and can be relayed around the world by communications satellites. A combination of microwave, coaxial-cable, optical-fiber, and satellite paths now link the major cities of the world. An organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), works to standardize telephone service throughout the world.
The History of the Telephone
The first person to send a voice signal over wires was Scottish-born American inventor Alexander Graham Bell, a speech teacher in Boston, Massachusetts. Bell constructed a transmitter and a receiver, for which he received a patent in 1876. Other inventors also claimed to have invented the telephone at the same time. Bell's claim had to be defended in court 600 times before the Supreme Court of the United States decided in his favor. The first automatic exchanges were patented in 1891. Long-distance telephony was established in small steps. Problems in transmitting over great distances were solved with the invention of the triode vacuum tube, which amplified electrical signals. In 1915 vacuum-tube repeaters were used to initiate service from New York City to San Francisco, California.
The vacuum tube also made possible the development of longwave radio circuits that could span oceans. In the 1950s the technology of the coaxial-cable system was combined with high-reliability vacuum-tube circuits in an undersea cable linking North America and Europe. The application ofdigital techniques to transmission, along with undersea cable and satellites, finally made it possible to link points halfway around the earth with a circuit that had speech quality almost as good as that between next-door neighbors.
In the late 1800s, the Bell Telephone Company (established in 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell and his financial backers) used its patents to exclude others from the telephone business. After these patents expired, independent telephone companies emerged, but most of these were consolidated during the early 1900s by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), which had bought the Bell Telephone Company in 1900. In addition to owning virtually all of the long-distance circuits in the United States, AT&T manufactured most of the equipment, thus dominating all facets of the business.
AT&T was considered to be a "natural monopoly," and by law was decreed the sole provider of telephone service within a designated area. This arrangement reduced the costs associated with more than one company stringing wires in an area, and eliminated problems that had arisen when customers of one company wished to call customers of another company. In exchange for the absence of competition, the companies were regulated by government, which told them what services they must provide and what prices they could charge.
After protracted lawsuits, AT&T agreed in 1968 to allow the connection of independently manufactured telephones to its network. In 1974 MCI Communications Corporation challenged AT&T about its right to maintain a monopoly over long-distance service. Antitrust proceedings were eventually settled in 1982. AT&T agreed to sell off its local operating companies, retaining the long-distance network and manufacturing companies. The former AT&T operating companies were regrouped into seven Regional Holding Companies (RHCs).
In the United States, about 94 percent of households have telephones, creating a huge opportunity for companies that provide local and long-distance service. Today the five remaining RHCs (two pairs of companies merged in 1996) are expanding into each other's territory and overseas. There are many long-distance companies as well. In other countries, until this decade, most of the telephone companies were owned by national governments. Many countries are now privatizing telephone service.
The introduction of radio into the telephone set has been the most important recent development in telephone technology, permitting first the cordless phone and now the cellular phone. Answering machines, multifunctional telephones, and facsimile machines are becoming increasingly popular. Technology is improving the quality and lowering the expense of videophones (telephones that transmit pictures); and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) uses digital technology to allow users to get more information faster over the telephone. This is indicative of a trend in which the functions of the telephone, the computer, and television are gradually melting together, possibly into one all-purpose instrument.
indoor game: musical chairs, hunt the thimble, hunt the slipper, pass the present, telephone, spin the bottle
communicate: telephone, phone, call, dial, ring, give one a ring or a buzz, get on the horn
the game "Telephone"
The memes themselves are evolving, just as in the game of "Telephone" (where a message is whispered from person to person, being slightly mis-replicated each time). Selection favors the memes which are easiest to understand, to remember, and to communicate to others. Garbled versions of a useful meme would presumably be selected out.
The phone system, with its complexity, vulnerability, and illusion of privacy, is the natural home of the technological trickster. In Shakespeare, the prankster's domain is an enchanted forest.Today, it is the mysterious convolutions of the communications network.
- Erik Davis
"The Telephone" A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past - 1 of 3 short stories in the 1963 film _Black Sabbath_ (vhs/ntsc)
film _The Doors_ (vhs/ntsc) (1991) directed by Oliver Stone
Crispin Hellion Glover as Andy Warhol
"Somebody gave me this telephone... I think it was Edie... yeah it was Edie... and she said I could talk to god with it, but uh... I don't have anything to say... so here... [giving Jim Morrison the phone] this is for you... now you can talk to god."
|Jawbreaker - _Equalized_(audio)||Jawbreaker - _Equalized_
live at McGregor's in Elmhurst, Il on 8/23/1992 (video)
||McGregor's music venue 1992|