Thursday, February 18, 2010

The telephone: invented in Canada

I know, I know, the Yanks brag the telephone was invented in Boston. In fact, there's a marker in Boston commemorating the birthplace of the telephone.

But Canadians also have bragging rights when it comes to the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell himself once stated Brantford, Ontario, was where he invented the telephone. He developed the concept at his family's Southwestern Ontario homestead.

Scotland, not to be outdone, also claims the invention of the telephone with pride; Bell, the inventor, was born in Edinburgh Scotland in 1847.

But one thing unites Boston, Brantford and Edinburgh - they all agree that in 2002 the U.S. Congress made a big error recognizing Antonio Meucci, an Italian immigrant to the States, as the true inventor of the telephone. 113 years after Meucci's death, the American Congress re-wrote history and declared the little-known mechanical genius the father of modern communications.

No one argues about the yellow pages, they were created in 1886 by Reuben Donnelly, a printer in Cheyenne Wyoming, when he ran out of white paper and used yellow instead.

At one time London, Ontario, had a strong connection to the telephone business. A massive Northern Telecom (Nortel) plant employing more than a thousand area workers was located beside highway 401 immediately to the south of the city. Today Nortel, the former stock market high-flyer, is gone, bankrupt, its shares dropped from a high of about $124 to a bit more than a nickle when trading stopped.

In our home we still use a Bell landline telephone. It is electronic but it emulates a dial phone. Our phone does not work on the touch-tone system. Alexander Graham Bell would be comfortable using our phone - not too high-tech.

In London it is only possible to have a dial phone if you've always had one. No new dial numbers are being assigned. A lot of folk have stayed on the dial phone system as it is costs less than the touch-tone one.When Bell tried dropping the service a few years ago, more than a 100 thousand customers complained to the CRTC and Bell dropped the plan.

For finding telephone numbers, we still use a phone book with both white and yellow pages. And it appears the yellow pages also taste quite good, at least if you're five-months-old. A moment after this picture was snapped, mom took notice and removed the tasty morsel from the fingers of our budding telephone book connoisseur. She isn't allowed to have solid foods, yet.

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