Commercial Box

Bell's Box Telephone of 1877

The first commercial telephone used by Alexander Graham Bell was based on his patent of January 1877. The telephone consisted of a single transmitter/receiver placed within a retangular wooden box. One would speak into the opening in the box and then listen through the same opening. This telephone had essentially the same design as the patent drawing except for the shape. The the patent drawing had a round shape rather than squared.

Two or more of these box phones were connected in series on a line with a ground return. The first telephone line was installed in April 1877 between Charles William's electrical shop on Court Street, Boston and his home about three miles away. A month later the first rented installations were made making this line the first commercial telephone service. A mark in history that would pave the way first for families to have a phone in every home, then individuals to have smaller portable phones, a telephone answering service for businesses and much more yet to come.



The box phone had no signaling device to determine incoming calls. In June of 1877, Thomas Watson devised a "thumper" that would strike the diaphram of the box phone to make a tapping sound on the receiving telephone as a signal device.

Return to Antique Telephone History Photo page or

to the home page

See Old Time Telephones! for additional information.

txt ad 5/13