Musée du téléphone

Bernard Chenot : 06 89 08 65 94


Renaud Laus : 06 87 82 74 69


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The beginnings of the telephone

While the electric telegraph was spreading throughout the world, especially with the installation of the first transatlantic line in 1865, many researchers foresaw the arrival of the telephone. 

Charles Bourseul demonstrated in 1854 that the vibrations of the human voice could be transmitted, but he faced general scepticism. 
In Germany, in 1861, Philippe Reis succeeded in transmitting music, but not spoken language.

Charles Bourseul

In September 1871, Antonio Meucci filed a provisional patent application for the telephone.

However, he let the application expire in 1874.

14 February 1876, at 2pm, Alexander Graham Bell registered his invention two hours before fellow American inventor Elisha Gray.
Interestingly, Bell worked in the same laboratory where Meucci stored his equipment!

Listen to Alexander Graham Bell’s voice from the Smithsonian Institution. 

Bell’s system was based on the principle of electromagnetic induction. 
The invention of the microphone in 1877 by the British-American David Edward Hughes was the basis for all subsequent research carried out, including Thomas A. Edison’s carbon microphone. Notably, Edison’s carbon microphone played a decisive role in the history of the telephone by increasing its performance. 
The first telephone lines only offered point-to-point connections, and the creation of central offices in order to organise a real telephone network quickly became a necessity. 
In 1878, the first commercial telephone switchboard went into service in Connecticut. Then, in 1891, Strowger made it possible to extend the telephone network, thanks to the development of the first electromechanical switching system. 
At the dawn of the 20th century, the telephone became the symbol of modernity. It took over offices and considerably modified daily life in the cities and in the countryside. 

Graham Bell

In France: 
When the telephone appeared in 1878, management of its infrastructure was conceded to a private company. The first telephone, the Hand Telephone by Bell, arrived in 1878. It was also called the “Reversible Bell”, as the handset could be used as both a transmitter and a receiver.

In 1881, the International Electricity Exhibition was held in Paris on the Champs de Mars. During the event, visitors were able to listen to live broadcasts of songs sung on the opera stage thanks to Ader telephones. This type of phone was referred to as the “Théâtrophone”.

In 1889, the telephone was nationalised. 

Ericsson 1894

In the Aude department: 
The first telephone line in the department was granted by decree on 5 April 1890. It ran between the home and the shop of Théophile François d’Arnaudy in Ouveillan.
Until the beginning of the century, the main telephone networks spread throughout the department according to the dynamism and the opportunism of local authorities and chambers of commerce. 

On 13 April 1891, construction of the city hall’s private network in Carcassonne
On 8 August 1892, installation of the Narbonne urban network, with 17 subscribers 
On 20 May 1895, the interurban connection of the Midi region (Bordeaux-Toulouse-Carcassonne-Narbonne-Sète) is launched.