How Do Telephones Actually Work?

It’s one of those facts you think you know from school but simply won’t come to you when you need it most.  Just next to you some work friends talk intelligently about a recent news story. They turn to you for your opinion, but of course you spent your morning running late and wasting time in the coffee line. So you fall onto your backup – smile and laugh. In a Bridget Jones fashion, you vow to memorise some clever facts for next time. Chechnya anyone?


And just like that F.R.I.E.N.D’s episode, where Joey feels left behind when everyone talks about current events despite his V encyclopedia investment, we at SMC are here to help avoid such social mishaps.


How The Telephone Works:

  1. The sound energy in your voice makes the air vibrate. Vibrating air carries the sound energy into the phone.
  2. The diaphragm in the mouthpiece microphone converts sound energy into electrical energy.
  3. The electrical energy travels from the phone, via exchanges and carbon audio transformers, to your friend’s phone. Carbon is special because it changes its electrical conductivity with minimal amounts of pressure—pressure such as that created by pressing a membrane against it, a membrane that is vibrating due to, oh, say, the sound waves created by a human voice.
  4. A diaphragm in the earpiece loudspeaker of your friend’s phone converts the incoming electrical energy back to sound energy.
  5. The sound energy travels out from the earpiece into your friend’s ear.


So, next time there is a lull in the conversation, we at SMC have you covered – how to segue into telephones…that’s your business.

Shanghai Metal manufactures the carbon steel in audio transformers used to make phone calls. To find out more, please visit our websiteLinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

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Sources: Telecom History, Explain That Stuff

Siobhan R.// SMC Editor