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White House gets first telephone in May 1879

Mon 14 May, 2012 // Firstnumber Team
White House gets first telephone in May 1879

It is hard enough to imagine a life without making social phone calls to your friends and family, but try to think what phone-less life must have been like for those trying to run a country back in the day! The White House got its first telephone installed in May 1879, when President Rutherford B. Hayes was in office.

He is said to have embraced the new technology despite barely ever receiving or making calls. This is quite simply because not many people had access to a telephone at the time.

The only other direct phone line within the White House was in the Treasury Department. It was not until 50 years later that President Herbert Hoover had the first phone line installed at his desk in the Oval Office. To place a call to the White House one simply had to dial the phone number 1.

President Hayes made his first call to Alexander Graham Bell, the very inventor of the device, who was then 13 miles away. Among the President's historical first words were: “Please speak more slowly.”

Politics and international relations would not be where they are today if not for the invention of the telephone.

We are lucky to be able to take cross-border communication for granted. It has never been easier to make cheap international calls.

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