Gower-Bell telephone, 1881.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Gower-Bell telephone was the standard telephone isued by the Post Office when it entered the telephone busines in the early 1880s, offering a service to its existing telegraph customers. It was robust and sensitive, but the receiver, patented by Frederick Gower in 1879, was so heavy that it was built into the body of the telephone, which was usually wall-mounted. The sound reached the user through a pair of flexible tubes, and the microphone was an arrangement of loosely touching carbon pencils attached to a thin wooden plate that vibrated with the speaker's voice.