Why do we have telecommunications?

Travel with us from the mid-1800s to the future to see how
telecommunications changes our lives and our world.
(click to enter the exhibit!)

Interviews and Press

This exhibit was featured in an interview with John Shea for Comcast Newsmakers. It can be downloaded as a wmv file (Windows Media Player file) by clicking here.

NPR interviewed THG Director Jody Georgeson. That MP3 can be found by clicking here.

Exhibit Photos

We currently have two photo albums available (they open in a new window, offsite):

Reception photo album

Exhibit photo album

Honorary Exhibit Committee


We are grateful to our exhibit sponsors:


Contributors to Telecommunications Technology

Artist Allen True created a border for the Wings of Thought mural (pictured) with names of inventors whose work supported the development of telecommunications through 1929, the time of the painting.

Thomas B. Doolittle (1839-1921): Doolittle invented hard copper wire. Copper wire, a good conductor of electricity, is mechanically weak. Iron wire is strong but not a very good conductor. He created the first hard-drawn copper wire made tough-skinned by a simple process. This hard wire, used for line wire, vastly extended the range of telephone transmission.

Charles E. Scribner (1858-1926): Scribner spent 30 years devoted to the creation of the switchboard, the "brain" of the telephone system in 1929. Of the 9,000 switchboard patents, he held 600 or more.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922): Bell invented the telephone in 1876 as a by-product of his intense interest in teaching the deaf to speak. His invention, patented on his 29th birthday, consisted of two instruments similar in principle to 1929 receivers. (See a prototype of his telephone at the end of the exhibit.)

Thomas A. Watson (1854-1934): Watson was Bell’s able assistant when the telephone was invented. He constructed the first telephone instruments and heard the first words ever transmitted by telephone: “Watson, come here. I want you.”

Lee De Forest (1873-1961): In 1906 De Forest invented the Audion vacuum tube that allowed the ability to talk from this continent to almost any point in Europe. It also was used to develop the radio broadcasting industry.

John Joseph Carty (1861-1932): Carty became famous for trouble-shooting technical problems in the telephone system. His solutions include: the first metallic multiple switchboard, a system to mitigate noise and cross talk on telephone lines, the first transcontinental telephone circuit, the Washington-Boston underground cable, and the first wireless transmission from Arlington, Virginia to Hawaii and Paris.

Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931): Among his many discoveries and inventions, Edison developed a relatively powerful transmitter with carbon as the active element. He invented the phonograph and the kinetophone, a form of talking motion pictures.

Michael I. Pupin (1858-1935): Pupin invented the loading coil that extended the range of transmission many times greater than the original circuit, making possible a transcontinental telephone circuit. It allowed a fine copper wire to do the work of heavier and more expensive wire, saving nearly $40 per mile of wire.

Click here to move to the next page of this exhibit, or use the following links to jump to rooms in this exhibit. Hover over the links for short descriptions of each page.

Before Telecommunications, First Telecommunications (1800-1863)
Telephones Invented, Spread (1876-1928)
A Phone in Every Home (1929-1981)
Thoughts Fly Around the World (1984-present)
What's Next?

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PICTURED: (above, beginning of article) Wings of Thought image reproduced from a mural by Allen True at Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Building, 931 14th St., Denver