The telephone is a device that converts sound into electrical signals for communication. It allows two or more people to have a conversation when they are too far apart to hear each other. Signals are carried through wires or transmitted through electromagnetic waves.

A telephone is a device used by two or more people to hold a conversation when they are too far apart to have a conversation directly. A telephone consists of a microphone and a speaker to transmit and receive information. The word is derived from the Greek tele meaning "distant" and phone meaning "voice".

The first patent for a practical working telephone was given to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. However, Bell can't be credited as the sole inventor, as there were many other people involved with the development of the telephone.

An Italian named Antonio Meucci filed a caveat for his design of a method of transmitting sound, but it lapsed because he could not afford to renew it. Elisha Gray, an American engineer, also played an important role. Some people claim that Gray is the true inventor of the telephone. Gray’s caveat and Bell’s patent application arrived at the patent office on the same day. Which one arrived first is still debated. After numerous court cases, Bell’s patent was still upheld, giving him the title of "Father of the Telephone". In June 2002, Meucci’s contribution to the invention of the telephone was acknowledged in the House of Representatives.

The first long distance telephone call was made by Bell between Brantford and Paris, Canada in August 1876. He made the first two-way call between Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts a couple of months later, in October. The first transatlantic telephone call was made in 1926 between London and New York.

Early phones required the use of an operator, who would patch the call to the intended recipient. This method was replaced by rotary dial phones. The invention of the transistor and electronic switching systems changed the way phones worked dramatically. These greatly improved the quality and capacity of telephone networks. The first commercially available cell phone, also known as a mobile phone, was made by Motorola in 1984. Smartphones came into the market in 1995 with the IBM Simon phone, and the technology continues to be developed.

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