You had me at Hello..

Thomas EdisonDid you know that Thomas Edison, famed for over 1,000 inventions, was also responsible for a word that most english speaking people use everyday... 'Hello'?

As is commonly known, the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in the 1870s. With the increasing popularity of the invention, phone callers found that they needed a signal for starting a conversation - an important issue in those days as some early phone lines were left permanently connected and open.

People experimented with lots of different telephone greetings, including the following: "What is wanted?", "Are you there?", "Are you ready to talk?".

Bell himself wanted all telephone calls to start with "Ahoy, hoy!" Depending on whom you believe, Bell's preferred salutation was said to be derived from the nautical term "Ahoy." (readers who are fans of the TV show "The Simpsons" may know that the character Mr. Burns,whose vocabulary includes many obsolete words and phrases, always answers the telephone by saying "Ahoy-hoy.")

However, Bell's suggestion didn't gain widespread acceptance. Instead, phone users preferred to follow the lead of Thomas Edison.

Showing a well founded faith in technology, the first time Edison picked up the phone he did not ask if anyone was there. He was sure someone was, and simply said, "Hello."

The story of Edison's 'Invention' was considered by many to be an urban myth, until the 1980s, when a scholar named Allen Koenigsberg found proof. He discovered a letter Edison wrote to Mr. T.B.A. David, president of Pittsburgh's Central District and Printing Telegraph Company. That letter, dated August 15, 1877 included the first known written use of the word "hello."

Etymologists (people who study origins of words) rightly point out that Edison didn't make up the word. People in twelfth century England greeted each other with "hallow," which may have come from the Old French "hola," meaning essentially "stop!". By the mid-nineteenth century, 'Hullo' was a slang word growing in use, mainly to express surprise. It was first used briefly by Charles Dickens in 1850 and then by Thomas Hughes in ‘Tom Brown's School Days’ in 1857... a book Edison probably read.

Maybe it's not accurate to claim this as another invention, but Edison's use in a telephone greeting certainly propelled the world from it's slang use to becoming one of the most commonly used words in the English language.

it's probably a good thing that historians don't record who first coined the phrase 'Please Hold'...

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