Alexander Graham Bell | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates the telephone to Queen Victoria

To celebrate the birth date of Alexander Graham Bell (born in Edinburgh on this day in 1847), here is a newspaper report from 1878 about the interactive demo of the workings of the telephone, given by Alexander Graham Bell to Queen Victoria in 1878.

Bell’s demo by royal appointment took place at Osborne House in January 1878, and it looks as though the experiment went very well – luckily for the Queen and Bell, PowerPoint hadn’t yet been invented to amuse.

Especially interesting is the account of the songs that were played down the phone, which perhaps suggests that the royal chit-chat of ‘What do you do?’ and ‘Have you come far?’ don’t easily translate to phone conversations.

Then again, ‘Go on, give us a song!’ would certainly help to enliven many of the monosyllabic “I’m on the train” lines that pass for conversations these days – though the line, “I’m on the throne!”, does have great appeal.


Alexander Bell and the Queen
Alexander Graham Bell and the Queen | Staffordshire Sentinel | 17 January 1878

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