February 12, 2015

On February 12, 1877, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated how to call long-distance by calling The Boston Globe.

Later that evening, after Bell’s demonstration in Salem, a Boston Globe reporter sent the first news report by phone back to the paper in Boston.

The Rutland Daily Globe reprinted The Boston Globe’s story. As you can see in the clipping posted below, the Boston Globe saw great potential in phone technology.

Image-Rutland 1877-A

Image-Rutland 1877-B

Here is an excerpt from a Salem Focus story called,
The First Long Distance Call“:

“On February 12, 1877, Bell made the first long-distance phone call in history from the Lyceum in Salem to Watson at the Boston Globe in Boston.

The phone Bell was using in his demonstration was what he called his ‘Long Distance’ telephone. It was a wooden box about ten inches-by-ten-by-eight with a hole in the front. The caller would speak and listen through the same hole. Thomas Watson had devised a ‘thumper’ that was used to signal the receiver that a call was coming through.

Bell now held the thumper and made a tapping sound on the diaphragm, which in turn recreated the same sound on the diaphragm in Watson’s phone in Boston. Moments later, Bell heard a sound in his phone signifying that Watson was ready for the communication.

Bell leaned close to the box and spoke into the speaking device — loud enough for his Lyceum audience to hear.

‘Mr. Watson, can you hear me?’

For a moment, the only thing the audience heard was a crackling sound coming from the receiving device. Then a voice came through. ‘Yes, sir, I hear you.’ A brief pause. Crackle, scratch. Then, ‘Mr. Bell, I should like to sing a song for your audience in Salem. Are you ready?’

The December 1906 edition of Popular Science magazine described the first example of telephone reporting:

Image-Popular Science 1906-A

Image-Popular Science 1906-B

In 1922 Illinois Bell Magazine went into a little more detail:

“Henry M. Butchelder, a reporter from the Boston Globe, was present at the Salem end, and after the (Bell’s) lecture telephoned his report to A.B. Fletcher, another Globe reporter, who was present at the Boston end of the improvised telephone wire. Thus the first newspaper report ever sent by telephone was printed in the paper the following morning.”

Thanks to the Smithsonian, we can now hear what Alexander Graham Bell, the first person ever to call a newspaper, sounded like:

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