Although the first phone call happened in Boston (see our June email), the first "Hello" certainly didn't. In fact, the correct way to answer a telephone call was disputed at the time — between Alexander Graham Bell and one of his rivals, Thomas Edison.
Bell's greeting of choice was nautical: "Ahoy!" (also favored by The Simpsons' Mr. Burns). Edison, on the other hand, was in favor of a word that wasn't typically a greeting, but was instead used to get someone's attention, or express surprise. His greeting — "Hello!" — became widespread, and eventually made it into international guidebooks for using the telephone.
(The guidebooks were not the last word, however. Before "Goodbye" became the standard sign-off, the books suggested the more straightforward "That is all.")
About a hundred years later, one seal at the New England Aquarium learned the word, too. Hoover the Talking Seal became famous for greeting visitors with a Bostonian "Hello theah!"