The origins of the telephone date back to the non-electrical string telephone or "lover's telephone" that has been known for centuries, comprising two diaphragms connected by a taut string or wire. Sound waves are carried as mechanical vibrations along the string or wire from one diaphragm to the other. The classic example is the tin can telephone, a children's toy made by connecting the two ends of a string to the bottoms of two metal cans, paper cups or similar items. The essential idea of this toy was that a diaphragm can collect voice sounds from the air, as in the ear, and a string or wire can transmit such collected voice sounds for reproduction at a distance.

      Alexander Graham Bell is commonly credited as the inventor of the first practical telephone. The classic story of his crying out "Watson, come here! I want to see you!" is a well known part of American history. Bell was the first to obtain a patent, in 1876, for an "apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically", after experimenting with many primitive sound transmitters and receivers. Bell was also an astute and articulate business man with influential and wealthy friends.

      There were telephones around in service long before I was born and the Shinnston area had a very good telephone operation. I can remember to make a call all you and to do was pick up the phone and a lady would come on and say "number please" and all you had to do was give her the number and she would connect you. Even if you didn't know the number all you had to do was ask for someone by name and it never failed, the operator knew the number and gave it to you or just connected you to your party.

      In rural areas the telephone seemed to be always a party line with as many as 15 individuals on the same line. While you were talking anyone on the party line could pick up their phone and listen to the conversation. This was used to keep up with the local information or gossip. Sometimes it resulted in small feuds between party line customers. Lots of bad words were used and heated arguments. The phones normally had hand cranks and you would call your party line friend by using a combination of short and long rings so everyone would have to listen to the number of short and long rings and in what order to know if they or their neighbor was being called so it made it much easier to just pick up the phone and ask who it was and who they were calling. Usually one party on the party line had a telephone switch board in their home and could connect you to the outside world to the main telephone system.

      Next came the 4 party line on a local system and you and one party could hear any of the other 3 parties but only one line would ring on your phone, normally these phones rang by just a one long and one short ring or one short and one long so it made it much easier for you to know who was being called.

      Shinnston, where I grew up had a well established telephone system in 1930 with a large number phones on the system. The following is a copy of the Shinnston, WV Telephone Book published in 1930. I hope you will be able to look up and see if someone in your family had a phone in the Shinnston area in 1930.

Now this is what we use, and the service isn't any better than it was over 80 years ago, just more convienent or is it.

Just what would you do if there is an emergency and the telephone system as we know it today goes dead?

"When all else fails,there is Ham Radio"
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