Contact us Customer service: 0800 1388 388
0800 840 4949

The history of the home phone service

The home phone service has been a household necessity for almost 140 years. Nowadays we bundle our line rental with our broadband and use our mobiles to make most of our calls, but the majority of us still rely on our home phone to make calls to family and friends. How did it all get started? Find out about the history of the home phone service.

By on April 03, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Home phone
The history of the home phone service

Your home phone service is something you take for granted nowadays, but do you know how it all began? We take a trip down memory lane, then look at the current offerings from UK landline providers to see what's changed in 140 years.

Are you looking for advice on comparing home phone deals?

How it all began - from electrical telegraphs to electromagnetic telegraphs:

It all started in 1804, when Catalan polymath and scientist Francisco Salvá Campillo decided to take the humble electrical telegraph to the next level by creating its electrochemical and more sophisticated sibling. Baron Schilling later on followed Campillo's example and upped the ante by constructing an electromagnetic telegraph, with Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber hot on his heels building a similar one a year later

The first home phone

During the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Alexander Graham Bell showed the world the telephone, which at the time was a point-to-point system. However, as soon as the 1890s kicked in, the exchanges spread, giving the opportunity to call greater distances.

The growing popularity of the home phone service

After the 1930s telephone lines between metropolitans and smaller towns were neatly connected, enhancing the network to the point where you had no problem calling grandma three cities away. Home phone models also changed in appearance, from the rotary dial to touch-tone signalling in the 60s.

Modern home phone features:

  • Call display. Always know who is calling.
  • Automatic withhold. Don't want to talk? Don't have to talk.
  • Automatic anonymous caller rejecter. If you don't want to find out who's anonymously calling, you can simply switch this option on.
  • A lot of numbers, especially customer service departments, are free to call from a landline home phone. You'll have to pay a premium to call these from a mobile.
  • Ring back, three-way calling, call diversion, among other add-on options
  • Specially designed affordable rates to ring family and friends abroad available only via home phone.

Our recommended home phone only deal:


The future of the home phone service

Mobile broadband, smartphones, tablets and Voice-Over-IP services (for example Skype) - the home phone has a lot of competition these days. However, the landline phone in the UK still remains a household favourite, as it is widely used because of the features other technologies are yet to introduce. The benefits of having a fixed landline are that you can save on calling other landlines, get international calls bundled with your line rental, and opt for free anytime calls - reducing the need to pay for additional mobile phone services. While these benefits are still so compelling, there's a future for home phone services.

I want to change my home phone provider and get a better deal

Call our Switching Support Experts for free advice on the best home phone service for your family, or compare deals yourself:

Call for free advice and to switch providers

0800 840 4949

Calls are free from a landline

On a mobile? Call 0203 092 5174 for standard rates

Our call centre is now closed, we'll reopen tomorrow at 8am

You can: