The Telephone – How it works

Have you ever wondered how your voice can travel thousands of kilometres, instantaneously? The transmission of speech long predates Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone of 1876, as makeshift instruments such as pipes or cones were used to project a voice over greater distance. But the telephone as we know it was a more ambitious device; it sought connection across towns, continents and oceans.

As this General Post Office production explains, telephones operate in a similar way to that of two stringed tins; one person speaks into a diaphragm which vibrates in response to sound, the vibrations travel along a conduit and are replicated for a recipient via another diaphragm.

Our modern use of the telephone extends beyond well voice communication to textual and visual means of sharing information, news, emotion and meaning. As an inherited norm, we rarely contemplate how our telecommunications technologies work but, broken down into its individual components, both physical and intangible, this film reveals the marvel that is voice over distance.

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