A Letter to Alexander Graham Bell

Dear Mr. Bell,

Ahoy! How are you? Do your friends call you Alex? Or Al? Or Teddy Graham? Or do they even call you?

That of course brings me to your great invention of the telephone, which is of course what people use to call each other these days. But you probably already knew that.

I wanted to let you know how your crowning achievement has evolved over the years, because what it has become isn’t quite the same as what it was back when you invented it. Time changes everything, they say, but it has definitely done a number on the telephone.

For the first many years of its existence, telephones were either on a wall or on a table, connected to the wall by a cable. If you wanted to use the telephone, then you went into the room where the telephone was, unless you had a really long phone cable that would reach into another room. That was about as mobile as telephones were. As the world progressed, more and more rooms were equipped with telephones. Instead of one telephone per house, it grew to be one telephone per room. Sometimes even including the bathroom in some “luxury” houses and even a few “luxury” hotels. Not in our house, of course, because some of us consider that to be weird. Most of us would consider it a luxury to be able to get away from the telephone at times.

Then there started to be a few mobile phones here and there. But only for the privileged few, such as Batman in the Batmobile. Or maybe the president of a large national company or something. But that was still rare. The only way most of us could have a phone in our car was if we had a cable long enough to reach all over town. And that wasn’t very practical. Not to mention it would trip all of the pedestrians trying to cross the street.

But then somewhere, somehow, someone got the idea to make phones that worked with a series of antennas. These new phones did not need to be connected by a cable to a wall, which was then connected by other cables to the phone of the person that you were talking to. These new phones, called cellular phones because an area served by an antenna tower was known as a “cell,” gradually gained popularity as they became less expensive. Or maybe they became less expensive as they gained popularity. They also received a boost as they got smaller, because the first cellular phones were bigger than a copy of “War and Peace” and would not fit into your pocket. Unless you were a kangaroo.

Soon, most everyone had one of them. They were everywhere, and you could talk to anyone from anywhere. As long as you could get a signal. So of course they had to do something different.

Enter the Internet. That is a whole different topic that should be covered separately. But anyway, these smart people figured out how to pair the modern cordless version of your telephone with the Internet, so that you can get all sorts of information on a small device you can carry in your hand. You can get check the weather, see a map, email your friends, text message your friends, do some shopping, play a game, watch a movie, or read a book. Or even make a telephone call, although I don’t believe most people do that any more. Because who has time to talk on the telephone when you are doing all that other stuff?

So all of that makes me wonder. If you had known that all of this would come from that simple invention that you came up with, would you have gone through with it? If you had known, would you have just kept it to yourself and not called Watson from the other room? Or would you have just said that it wasn’t worth the trouble and instead have lived your life in obscurity?  Just wondering.

Anyway, have a nice day!

Your friend, Steve

P.S. They changed the name of the company named after you. Just so you know.

P.P.S. I wish your suggestion of saying “Ahoy” when answering the telephone would have won out.

World Bible School

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.