In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be granted a United States patent for a device that produced clearly intelligible replication of the human voice at a second device. This instrument was further developed by many others, and became rapidly indispensable in business, government, and in households. Most telephones also contain an alerting feature, such as a ringer or a visual indicator, to announce an incoming telephone call. Telephone calls are initiated most commonly with a keypad or dial, affixed to the telephone, to enter a telephone number, which is the address of the call recipient's telephone in the telecommunication system, but other methods existed in the early history of the telephone. The first telephones were directly connected to each other from one customer's office or residence to another customer's location. Being impractical beyond just a few customers, these systems were quickly replaced by manually operated centrally located switchboards. These exchanges were soon connected together, eventually forming an automated, worldwide public switched telephone network. For greater mobility, various radio systems were developed for transmission between mobile stations on ships and automobiles in the mid-20th century. Hand-held mobile phones were introduced for personal service starting in 1973. In later decades, their analog cellular system evolved into digital networks with greater capability and lower cost.
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