How 911 Became the Emergency Call Number

Before the 1960s, the United States didn't have one universal phone number for Americans to call if they needed help from the police or fire department. Callers simply had to know the phone number for each department in the area they were currently in. » 7/07/14 8:15am 7/07/14 8:15am

Barbed Wire Fences Were An Early DIY Telephone Network

Before Ma Bell came to town, and long before DSL, it was barbed wire, of all things, that brought rural communities together. A Sears telephone hooked up to barbed wire—miles of which were already conveniently strung along fences—connected far-flung ranches in the recently settled American west. Thus an ingenious and… » 1/02/14 2:30pm 1/02/14 2:30pm

"Pocket Telephones" Made for Cheap Calling All the Way Back in 1910


You've almost certainly got a telephone in your pocket (or clutch), but don't think for a second that it makes you any kind of pioneer. People were predicting—and using—pocket telephones more than a century ago, for reasons every bit as lethargic as your own. » 6/18/13 2:17pm 6/18/13 2:17pm

22 Awesome Rotary Phones: Beautiful Relics of a Bygone Era

It's possible that some of you have never seen a rotary phone in real life. It's likely that many of you have never used a rotary phone: heard the pulse take the place of the tone, mustered your patience as the dial rolls back it its reset, cursed a number with so many zeroes in it because it takes so long to call.… » 1/30/13 11:00am 1/30/13 11:00am

Why Would Someone Spend $3,000 On 100 Phone Numbers?

Phone numbers are intangible, frivolous things. No one in their right mind would collect them, right? Wrong. Meet Dennis Mykytyn, the man who purchased 100 coveted phone numbers with 212 area codes for $30 a pop in 2007. Yes, this guy spent $3,000 on phone numbers. » 8/12/11 11:00pm 8/12/11 11:00pm

This Is What Happens When You Google "Telephone"

I'm so depressed. I google one of the most important technologies ever invented, and I get a video of 25-year-old wearing sunglasses made out of cigarettes. Two versions of it before Alexander Graham Bell is even mentioned. » 8/12/11 3:58pm 8/12/11 3:58pm

Mastering The Lost Art Of Actually Talking On The Phone

Look, we all know the phone is scary. But sometimes you can't avoid it. Herewith, a few tips for making calls without sounding like a weirdo.… [ Jezebel » 4/07/11 5:20pm 4/07/11 5:20pm]

Don't Wanna Memorize Numbers? Call Someone's Twitter Handle Instead

I have no idea what my mom's cell phone number is. I don't think I've ever known the phone number of a girlfriend. Why would I? You probably don't either! Contact lists killed them. But web service Go800 wants to skip the whole number thing entirely, letting you hit people via their Twitter handle to connect a call. » 3/04/11 9:40pm 3/04/11 9:40pm

Inside AT&T's National Disaster Recovery Batcave: Who AT&T Calls When…

When the World Trade Center collapsed, it took out a critical AT&T switch, crippling service. It was restored in 52 hours—including the time to drive a caravan of eighteen-wheelers from Atlanta to a lot in Jersey City. » 8/02/10 1:00pm 8/02/10 1:00pm

This Is How Google Voice Will Ruin Your Relationships

Long ago, someone wrote about how Google is out to control your dog and marry your wife. I don't know how right he was about all that, but I certainly know that Google Voice is out to ruin relationships. » 2/24/10 12:00am 2/24/10 12:00am

This Is Exactly Why I Don't Check My Voicemail Anymore

There are times when I let my voicemail fill up to the point of callers getting the "Sorry. Mailbox is full. Please try again." message. This is why. » 1/29/10 8:00pm 1/29/10 8:00pm

Google's Placeholder Page for Phone Support and Its Weird Countdown

Google has an odd placeholder page waiting. Based on the URL, it should be a page for phone support, support of a phone, support over a phone, what else? There's also some sort of weird javascript countdown hidden in the HTML of the page so maybe some kind of mysteries are lurking there. [Google] » 12/14/09 5:20pm 12/14/09 5:20pm

Phreaking the Phones: Before There Was Hacking

Before there were computer hackers, there were phreakers. And before there were Macs, Jobs and Woz kept themselves busy building their own blue boxes (above) which would emulate precise control tones to seize control of the phone system. » 7/16/09 10:25am 7/16/09 10:25am

Swimming Pool Isolation Helmet Telephone Concept Is the Worst Idea…

Here's another for the "solutions to problems that don't exist" file: how to make phone calls in a swimming pool while looking like a cross between an alien and an idiot. » 2/07/09 11:00am 2/07/09 11:00am

AT&T Developing All-In-One U-Verse and Femtocell Box

An AT&T employee says that a U-Verse IPTV box with Femtocell capability is in the works. That's one set top unit that'll have TV, telephone, internet and improve cellular reception. » 2/03/09 4:46pm 2/03/09 4:46pm

FuChat Concept Phone Detects Then Displays your Emotional State

The FuChat concept phone is pretty, and kind of half-phone, half-Chumby as its surface is a concealed display used to show widgets: from weather displays, to showing a "keep out" sign on your door. But the emotional-sensing aspect got me intrigued. FuChat would be able to analyze your voice and body temp and guess at… » 7/28/08 7:41am 7/28/08 7:41am

FCC Asked to Get Carriers to Hurry Up Local Number Portability Already

With all the advances in technology we've had over the last couple of decades, you'd think that something as simple as changing your land line number into a cellular one would take hours at most. At least Congress does, and its now urging the FCC to put rules in place that will speed up local number portability… » 7/19/08 5:30pm 7/19/08 5:30pm

Landline Wireless Headset, or The Ugliest Gadget Ever

This monstrosity of a device is like the traditional Bluetooth headset, but not Bluetooth and not for cellphones. It operates on 2.4Ghz wireless frequency and can make any Suzy Homemaker hip and trendy with all of her Wisteria Lane friends. Unfortunately, wearing an ugly headset like this will make you no longer… » 8/22/06 10:33am 8/22/06 10:33am

uTalk Skype Conference Phone

Now that skype is free, we suspect lots of people will try it at least once to save on long distance and cellphone charges. Problem is, not everyone has a speakerphone, personal communicator, or skype-enabled wifi phone. » 5/24/06 2:23pm 5/24/06 2:23pm

Cuckoo IP


This is certainly a new application of the cuckoo clock. Cuckoo IP was created by a college student who wanted his cuckoo clock to play back voicemail to him. The clock has a designated voicemail number you can call from anywhere and leave a message. You then give the message a time of delivery and your part is done.… » 12/02/05 10:01am 12/02/05 10:01am