This classic 1910 book– by one of the first stars of technology journalism– is a charming and highly readable overview of the impact of the telephone in its first quarter-century.
From the preface: “Thirty-five short years, and presto! the newborn art of telephony is fullgrown. Three million telephones are now scattered abroad in foreign countries, and seven millions are massed here, in the land of its birth.” [sic] [Source]
The History of the Telephone, by Herbert Newton Casson (1869-1951) was published in 1910 by A. C. McClurg & Company, Chicago. In 2011, when the copyright had ended, various editions became widely available in print, e-book, and pdf. It’s also available entirely online, as well as a downloadable Word doc.
Amazon offers a free digital copy, though another option is illustrated and costs $0.99. Please note these are the same book. There’s no reason to buy both, like I did, unless you’re particularly interested in the images available in the $0.99 version… and already picked up the free book.
Note: Paperbacks have had many different cover images. If it’s by Herbert N. Casson / Herbert Newton Casson, it’s all (or should be all) the same content.
It’s an incredibly readable resource. Entertaining, enlightening, an historic gem. I delved right in, entirely unaware that it had been written more than 100 years ago. It reads with the same clarity and ease as if it had been written recently, and by a gifted historian. It’s that insanely well-written.
And it should be [insanely well-written].
During his lifetime, Casson published 168 books on business success. He authored The Crime of credulity (1901), Organized Self-Help (1901), The Romance of Steel (1908), The Romance of the Reaper (1908), Cyrus Hall McCormic: his life and work (1909), Ad and sales: A Study of Advertising and Selling (1911), The story of artificial silk (1928), and more.
If you love history half as much as I do, are researching period technology, or are simply curious, pick up either book and dive right in!
Please note these are the same book. The 99-cent version has illustrations the free version does not. The 8 to 10 illustrations (99-cent version) are simply color photographs of antique telephones, without labels, links, or specifics. Unfortunately, the 99-cent version is also poorly formatted, without discernible chapter breaks (no indentations and no blank lines between paragraphs). The $0.00 (FREE!) version is a much easier read.
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