In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be granted a United States patent for a device that produced clearly intelligible replication of the human voice. This instrument was further developed by many others. The telephone was the first device in history that enabled people to talk directly with each other across large distances. Telephones rapidly became indispensable to businesses, government and households.

In January 1878, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his new invention, the telephone, to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The Queen recorded in her journal that the telephone ‘had been put in communication with Osborne Cottage & we talked with Sir Thomas & Mary Biddulph, also heard some singing quite plainly’ and that she found the whole process ‘most extraordinary’.

These letters between Bell and Sir Thomas Biddulph, Keeper of the Privy Purse, show that Queen Victoria wished to purchase a set of telephones following the demonstration at Osborne.

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