<p>Alexander Graham Bell, the founding president of National Geographic Society, performs the first long-distance phone call in 1877.</p>

Can You Hear Me?

Alexander Graham Bell, the founding president of National Geographic Society, performs the first long-distance phone call in 1877.

Photograph by Bell Collection

Before Hotline Bling: 12 Photos of Phones Through the Years

Trace the evolution of the telephone with these photos from National Geographic’s archive.

Whether we’re posting to Instagram or playing Bejeweled, we use our phones for a lot more than making calls. Yet from 1876—when Alexander Graham Bell invented the device—until the rise of smartphones in the early 2000’s, phones were primarily for talking.

As these photos show, phones still got plenty of use before apps came along.

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