First telephone conversation in Spanish

First telephone conversation in Spanish

Heritage & Traditions

CubaPLUS

A commemorative plaque in an old house in Old Havana recalls a momentous event in Ibero-American telecommunications: the first known telephone conversation of Spanish-speakers, which occurred on November 2, 1877.

The devices that transmitted those acoustic signals by means of electricity had been placed in the building that occupied the headquarters of the Havana Commercial Fire Department, on Calle San Ignacio, and at the home of businessman Juan J. Musset, also a firefighter volunteer, in Amargura street.

As witnesses to that very new transmission, which was already tested as a rehearsal on October 31, were representatives of the press and various institutions, and personalities of the island government.

Among them were members of the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences, whose headquarters were located a few steps from the place, and had among its corporate functions that of recommending the feasibility of new inventions whose owners or sponsors requested their introduction in the country.

Telephony had a history in Cuba since 1849 when the Italian Antonio Meucci, using Bunsen batteries in his workshop at the Tacón theater in Havana, managed with his experiments to transmit the human voice.

The novel means of communication had been a success since 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell, publicly presented at the so-called Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that it was possible to spread the word and other sounds at a distance.

The news of the telephone tests success carried out on the island had repercussions in Spain. Soon the Madrid telegraph office requested that these wonderful devices be sent to them fromHavana.

A few days later, on December 16, 1877, Barcelona became the first Spanish city to present this technological advance. The Spanish capital joined the rehearsals on January 2 of the following year; and on January 18, the Royal Chambers of the Palace of Aranjuez and the Royal Palace of Madrid were linked in a singular and symbolic communication.

The merchant Enrique B. Hamel was, in 1879, the businessman who early imported to Cuba the first telephone devices manufactured by an American company called Tropical American Telephone, and the businessman Eduardo Dalmau was the exclusive agent that began to distribute in the Island the telephone sets manufactured by the already, for that same year of 1879, very important Alexander Graham Bell company.