On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. He said, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you." (On Wikipedia, they have him saying "I want to see you," which reminds me of how in the movie Troy, they made Patroclus Achilles's cousin, when we all know they were boyfriends. People are always trying to make history less risqué, which is why I would like you to know I am writing this in my underwear.)
Bell himself installed the phone in Mark Twain's house in Hartford, Connecticut. Twain did not have an easy time with it, especially the paying for it part. He would frequently call up the phone company and tell them exactly he much of the bill he would be paying. Then they probably turned off his phone, since you can't just pay whatever you want, we're the goddamn phone company.
Gilbert, of And Sullivan, was another early telephone user. He had one in his home and one in his office at the Savoy Theater. How fun for everyone, especially the actors who were being spied on and the assistants who he kept calling to go pick him up a ham sandwich.
That first phone call was short and didn't go very far, like a wobbly colt. But it doesn't seem so small when we consider our modern phone usage. When I look back on the text I received from across the room at Brother Jimmy's last weekend, Bell's "come here, I want you" sounds like Homeric epic poetry composed by Apollo himself. Makes you think, doesn't it? (It's ok if it doesn't. It's been a long day.)
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