In 1879, Mark Twain became a very early adopter of Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention (in 1876) of the telephone, a big step beyond the telegraph because it made possible voice communication at a distance, ordinary talk via electric current over a wire. A new adventure for humanity. Being Mark Twain, he also was early and keenly aware of some cultural side effects and ironies of new technological developments.
Twain’s sketch “A Telephonic Conversation” recounts an overheard conversation in his home, perhaps partly fabricated or embellished but true to life. This sketch is so early in the history of the telephone that it’s likely that the majority of Americans, even of readers of his sketch, had never yet heard a voice via a telephone