Monday, April 16, 2012


Phone home

Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. Thomas Edison invented the greeting "Hello".
The Keywaydin Hotel boasted 2 telephones for patrons use. An exciting amenity in the Golden Days of Lake Minnetonka. I have been writing a brief short story centering around these early telephones when it occured to me; What did one say when the first telephones rang?

According to this excerpt from the New York Times Etiquette section 1992:

"Finally, Mr. Koenigsberg found the historic letter of August 1877. In December 1987, justifiably excited, he published his findings in the journal he publishes, The Antique Phonograph Monthly. No one cared.

His research enters the area of educated guesswork when it comes to settling the question of why Edison used "hello" in the first place.

When Edison discovered the principle of recorded sound on July 18, 1877, he shouted "Halloo!" into the mouthpiece of the strip phonograph. The word was the traditional call to incite hounds to the chase, and is a close relative of such words as hilla, hillo, halloa and hallo, all used to hail from a distance.

The British "hullo," which dates from the mid-19th century, is deceptive. It was used not as a greeting but as an expression of surprise, as in "Hullo, what have we here?"

It seems likely that Edison, satisfied with the resonant halloo, continued to use it in his experiments, at some point compressing the pronunciation and modifying the spelling, never his strong suit, in any case.

Mr. Koenigsberg said he would still like to know what exactly was going through Edison's mind at the moment of creation."


Post a Comment

<< Home