If Alexander Graham Bell Had His Way, We’d Start Telephone Conversations With What?
Alexander Graham Bell will be forever ensconced in the annals of history as the inventor of the telephone. Despite inventing the device we so dearly love to use, however, Bell’s attempt at giving us a proper way to begin a session with the telephone fell flat.
Upon inventing and promoting the telephone to the general public, Bell suggested that the proper way to greet someone on the telephone was, in the nautical tradition, to say “Ahoy!” Despite Bell’s best efforts to champion “Ahoy!” as a greeting, it was ultimately the suggestion of his competitor Thomas Edison that won out–“Hello!”
Early phonebooks included etiquette guides in the front that further reinforced “Hello!” as the proper and accepted greeting, and from there on the word stuck. Despite the overwhelming popularity of hello, Alexander Graham Bell remained committed to his suggestion and answered the phone with “Ahoy!” for the rest of his life.