Thanks to the invention of mobile phones, communication across the globe has become just a tap away. You can contact anyone anywhere without needing to get off your chair. However, technology is always progressive, which is why the invention of mobile phones, which have made our lives much easier than before, must be accredited to Alexander Graham Bell, who first invented the telephone, making it easier for people to stay in touch with each other.

Alexander Graham Bell

Let’s take a look down the lane on how and why phone booths came to be used and the way they evolved over time.

History of Phone Booths:

When Alexander Graham Bell first invented the telephone in 1876, it was majorly meant for the wealthy people who could actually afford using it. However, the tables turned with William Gray’s invention of the first payphone.

William Gray was deeply affected when nobody would let him use their telephone to call the doctors to help his ill wife. William Gray carried out various experiments and came up with a coin-operated public pay phone in 1889, which required no attendant to collect money. These phones were utilized the “postpay” phenomenon whereby you placed a call first and deposited the coins later. The deposited coins would thereby hit a bell and create a sound which was then used by the operator to determine whether the deposited amount was correct.

Gray’s model was rapidly adopted by various phone companies, and 1898 saw the installation of first “pre-pay” station in Chicago. As the name suggests, prepay systems needed people to pay first and then make a call.

The first coin pay phone located outside, as we know it, was first installed in 1905, in a street in Cincinnati, however people were reluctant to make private calls in a booth that was open to public, thereby it didn’t become popular until the 1950s when the wooden booths which were difficult to maintain were replaced with ones made of aluminum and glass.

The idea thereby caught on, and in 1957s drive-up payphones came about, marking a successful approach to the idea of using phone booths. In 1966, “Dial tone service” became common which transformed phone booths into emergency call stations because you didn’t need to pay before making a call. By 1995, the number of public pay phones reached its peak in America, reaching up to 2.6 million.

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