Beacon Hill, June 2014


payphones, boston common  (sonya kovacic)

payphones, boston common (sonya kovacic)

"Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you."

— Alexander Graham Bell, completing the world's first audible telephone call in 1876. The historic call was made in Bell's laboratory, on what is now Cambridge Street in downtown Boston.

Once Bell finalized the patent for his invention, he held a series of public demonstrations to show it off. In one example from May 1877, Bell held a lecture at the Boston Music Hall (now Orpheum Theater). He had two telephones on stage: one connected to Thomas Watson in Somerville, and one connected to the opera singer Pasquale Brignoli in Providence. Watson and Brignoli both performed for the Boston audience, including an aria (by Brignoli) and a cornet solo (by Watson).

By 1886, more than 150,000 American households owned a telephone. 

Today, over 150 million Americans own a smartphone, and there are more than 1 million apps in the iPhone App Store alone.

One noteworthy app was recently developed by Boston's Public Works Department. It takes citizen complaints (e.g., potholes, broken street lamps, anything that needs a quick fix) and sends it directly to a repair crew on the road.