Posts Tagged ‘telephone’

Winner: Snowy, followed by Rosebud, Eric, and the Driver.

It’s always fun when a first timer like Snowy joins us and shows us she’s got game. Now let’s see if she can do it again.

A nice turnout for the game tonight included an old timer, Tulio visiting from Florida. He used to play with us way back, maybe 15 years ago, and was always a contender.

Good Question!: Who is credited with suggesting the word “hello” be used when answering the telephone?

Choices: a.Alexander Graham Bell  b.Mabel Hubbard Bell  c.Ben Franklin  d.Thomas Edison


Answer: Thomas Edison (although that’s Alex Bell in the photo)

Ahoy there. This guy Edison had his hands in everything, it seems.

“What do you say when you pick up the phone?
You say “hello,” of course.

What do you say when someone introduces a friend, a relative, anybody at all? You say “hello.”

Hello has to have been the standard English language greeting since English people began greeting, no?

Well, here’s a surprise from Ammon Shea, author of The First Telephone Book: Hello is a new word.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the first published use of “hello” goes back only to 1827. And it wasn’t mainly a greeting back then. Ammon says people in the 1830’s said hello to attract attention (“Hello, what do you think you’re doing?”), or to express surprise (“Hello, what have we here?”). Hello didn’t become “hi” until the telephone arrived.

The dictionary says it was Thomas Edison who put hello into common usage. He urged the people who used his phone to say “hello” when answering. His rival, Alexander Graham Bell, thought the better word was “ahoy.”


“Ahoy,” it turns out, had been around longer — at least 100 years longer — than hello. It too was a greeting, albeit a nautical one, derived from the Dutch “hoi,” meaning “hello.” Bell felt so strongly about “ahoy” he used it for the rest of his life.

Why did hello succeed? Aamon points to the telephone book. The first phone books included authoritative How To sections on their first pages and “hello” was frequently the officially sanctioned greeting.” (NPR – Robert Krulwich on Science)

Of course, the first intelligible words spoken over the telephone were: “Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you.”

Model of Telephone Invented by Alexander Graham Bell

This photograph shows a model of the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell. The telephone revolutionized long-distance communication by allowing two people to speak directly to each other using their own voices instead of through code as with a telegraph.

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