This week Bell Labs plans to roll out the Telephone, the first viable Telegraph alternative, but reports indicate they may not be ready. Many of the rollers are said to be jammed and the Telephone might have to be carried out instead. For agreeing to help lift the contraption, we have been given exclusive access to what experts are already calling “a device which emits sound and is not filled with bees.”
We had difficulty reaching other users on the Bell apparatus, which Alexander Graham admits will have limited utility until they build a second Telephone. In comparison, the Telegraph network already has fifteen machines connecting backwaters like Los Angeles to metropolises like Cincinnati, a support gap that should only widen in the coming months. Leaked reports from Morse reveal plans to suspend a line between New York and London using kites by January, a scheme insiders predict to be a terrific success.
Usability & Performance
Our tests show that users of the Telephone need not learn any “code,” having only to shout in the plain English understood by all but imbeciles, foreigners, and the Chinese. Still, the volume required left us wondering whether the Telephone itself was necessary, as Bell’s call to an assistant resulted in not only in Watson’s appearance, but three other men who swore they heard their names. Their confusion is understood, your reporter being among those men.
While the technology behind the Telephone is new, the design is reassuringly old-fashioned, reminiscent of a phrenologist’s horn or ear-candle in form. We found the experience far more comfortable than the one we had with the Telegraph, though fatigue from magnetic waves is inevitable in the use of each. This is a minor complaint, however, as we could scarcely imagine using such a device for more than a few minutes a day.
Can it be Used to Commune with Spirits?
Consumers these days list spirit detection as an essential feature for new technology, and many wonder if the Telephone might be our newest tool in irritating the dead. To assess the telephone’s capacity for supernatural communication, we conducted a séance under modern scientific standards at Bell Labs. Despite the use of no less than two dozen moth-oil candles and several spirit trumpets, no apparition was heard, although we are dead certain we heard our name again.
The Bottom Line
The current state of discourse makes it difficult to believe that one would be interested in conversing with others more than they do now, but this is what both gadgets promise. Those in the industry will surely debate the superiority of each for this purpose, but until Morse or Bell offers a reliable connection to ghosts, spooks or phantasms, we’re sure the consensus of the public at large will be “Who cares?”