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VoIP: A Birthing Story

Humble Beginnings

In the 1970s, most people hadn't heard of computers. By the 1980s, everyone had heard of them, massive giant calculating machines of complicated systems that took up an entire room. In the 1990s, computers were beginning to be a considered a common household luxury. As the new century dawned, people began carrying portable computers that would have astonished the 80s, whimsically labeled called laptops, and computers had become a household necessity. As we approach 2010, it is not uncommon for most households to have between 2 and 5 computers, and most students and business employees to either own or lease a personal laptop.

In the 1870s, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first sentence over distance via a device he called the telephone, "Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!" Telephone switchboards and rotary dials were developed, and telephones become less cumbersome and complex. By the 1920s, long distance telephone lines had been developed, although they were almost always shared 'party lines', serving multiple users. These functioned as if all persons were linked like we experience today in our own home landline, a person in the basement cannot dial out while someone in the kitchen is on the phone, although you can overhear everything they are saying. In the 1970s, the first call was made on a portable 'cellular phone,' and by the 1980s, commercial cellular service was available in limited areas of the US. As the century turned, the year 2000 saw universal cellular service, as well as drastically reduced prices and dramatically increased coverage and capability. With 2010 approaching, it is generally a given that every adult individual will have their own cellular line, and it is not an uncommon accoutrement even for middle school children.

A Charming Marriage of Technology

In 1995, the telephone met the computer under the tender matchmaking oversight of VocalTec Communications Inc., an Israeli telecom equipment provider. They launched the first ever program allowing users to speak to each other over a distance via computers connected to the internet, and VoIP technology was born. This writer doesn't know what the first sentence said was, and probably couldn't translate it, but the technology was rapidly assimilated into the American capitalist market via companies like Verizon, Vonage, Apple, Cisco, and more. By 2005 most people had heard of VoIP and a growing number of consumers were experimenting with its use. As the natural offspring born of telephones and computers, VoIP allows you to communicate with a telephone handset, via a computer internet interface, to anywhere in the nation and/or world, depending on your provider. As 2010 comes around the corner, VoIP usage is seeing exponential growth as individuals and businesses begin to utilize it as their primary means of communication.

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