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For the Lady Gaga song, see Telephone (song).

Cordless phone
Older telephone

A telephone is an electric tool. Using a telephone, two people who are in different places can talk to each other. Early telephones needed to be connected with wires which are called fixed or landline telephones. Now telephone calls can be sent with radio. This is called wireless or cordless.


Alexander Graham Bell was the first person to patent the telephone, in 1876.[1] Early telephones were wired directly to each other and could only talk to the phone that they were connected to. Later, telephone exchanges allowed connecting to other telephones. During the 20th century the machines that made the connections were automated.

Types of telephones

There are many different types of telephone. A telephone that can be carried around is called a mobile phone or cell phone. These became popular in the late 1980s. These days people carry mobile phones and in some cities or countries it is unusual to not have one. Some mobile phones are able to make telephone calls using communications satellites instead of masts on the ground, which means people can make calls from anywhere in the world.

Computers can use a machine called a modem to talk to other computers over a telephone line. This allows a computer to connect to other computer networks including the Internet.

In most countries there are public telephones. To use one people have to pay with coins, a credit card or a prepaid card.

Most countries have a telephone network. In less developed countries cell phones are used as a cheaper and faster way to bring modern communications to the countryside.

Telephone number

Most telephones have their own number. Today, telephone numbers are about seven to ten digits long. In many countries, part of the telephone number is called the area code. Area codes are used to make sure the numbers are not the same in two different places. Areas have their own area code, and countries have their own country code.