An improved version of the Gramophone, a talking machine invented by Emil Berliner (1851-1929) in 1888, and made since 1894 using a patented hard rubber disc, was introduced by Berliner's US Gramophone Company. In 1901, Berliner formed the Victor Talking Machine Company with Camden, NJ inventor Eldridge R. Johnson who improved the disc quality of what was now called a phonograph "record" system. Berliner's system was hand-cranked and lacked a constant pitch, sounding (to Johnson) like a "partly-educated parrot with a sore throat and a cold." Johnson added a spring-driven motor. The new system revolutionized the phonograph industry, because the "records" were compact for storage and durable enough to avoid normal damage during usage, and the sound quality was much improved. Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), of course, had invented the original phonograph in 1877, using a wax cylinder on his first model M of 1888. His Model A of 1898 still used a steel cylinder covered with tinfoil, and by the Model F of 1911, his was the last company still using the now-outdated cylinder system. The new 1901 Victor product used an image of a dog, "Nipper" listening to "his master's voice" on a phonograph. The image was from an 1898 painting by English artist Francis Barraud, sold in 1899 to Berliner's Gramophone Company Ltd. in London, and patented in 1900. American rights were sold to the Victor Talking Machine Company. The company was purchased by RCA in 1929, and they acquired rights to the trademark which was used extensively until 1968. But because of its popular appeal, RCA, now Thomson Electronics, re-introduced it in 1990, adding a smaller canine companion, "Chipper", representing the company's semiconductor-based future in electronics.
The world’s first commercial handheld cellular phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1983, and was introduced to the public in 1984 at a retail price of $3,995 after testing in the Chicago market. The 28-ounce phone was designed by Motorola’s industrial design team headed by manager Rudy Krolopp. The concept of a cordless phone evolved from the Motorola SCR 536 “Walkie-Talkie” developed for military use in 1943. In 1972, Motorola demonstrated a portable cellular telephone system to the FCC, using a device developed by Martin Cooper. In 1989, Motorola debuted its MicroTAC phone, the world’s smallest and lightest at 10.7 ounces. It was also designed by Rudy Krolopp’s design team. By 1996, Motorola’s StarTAC weighed only 3.1 ounces and fit into the palm of the hand.
The first dial telephone was introduced in 1897 by the Automatic Electric Company, founded in 1891 by Alman Brown Strowger, a Kansas undertaker. In 1889, convinced that the Bell "central exchange" was diverting his incoming calls to a rival embalmer, Strowger invented the automatic switchboard system, which was controlled by a number-dialing system. The system was first installed in 1892 in LaPorte, IN. In Strowger's 1897 model telephone, however, the rotary dial had not holes, but depressions similar to gear teeth, along about 170 degrees of the edge of the dial disc. The telephone, of course, was invented by Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) in 1876. The first commercial exchange was opened in 1878 (with 12 users), and in 1879, the multiple switchboard system was invented by engineer Leroy B. Firman, making the telephone a commercial success with 250,000 users by 1890. Up until 1894, when Bell's original patents expired, Bell Telephone Company had a virtual monopoly on the market. They had brought successful infringement suits against at least 600 would-be competitors. The company had, in 1896, just introduced the "Common Battery" system, with a power source at a central exchange. Before that, one had to hand-crank the phone to provide enough power for a call. A connection could still only be made by giving the name of the person to be reached to a telephone operator. This is what Strowger changed. Strowger soon became a strong competitor of Bell. He introduced a tabletop dial model in 1901, which was cleaner in design than the Bell model. In 1902, he introduced a wall telephone with a dial disk, this time with actual finger holes, but still only 170 degrees around the disk. By 1905, a "long distance" finger hole had been added. The last known Strowger model in in 1907. Strowger patents presumably expired in 1914, and he or his company is never heard from again. Not until 1919 did Bell introduce the dial system.