Trivia

Hard

If Alexander Graham Bell Had His Way, We’d Start Telephone Conversations With What?

Ahoy-Hoy
Greetings
Salutations
Hey Hey
An actor portraying Alexander Graham Bell speaking into a telephone for a 1926 AT&T promotional film.
AT&T/Early Office Museum/Wikimedia

Answer: Ahoy-Hoy

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-Hoy”. Despite Bell’s best efforts to champion “Ahoy-Hoy” as a greeting, it was ultimately the suggestion of his competitor Thomas Edison that won out—“Hello”.

Early phone books 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-Hoy” for the rest of his life.

In fact, you’ve likely never even heard someone answer the phone by saying “Ahoy-Hoy” unless, that is, you’re a big Simpsons fan. As a subtle joke and nod to how ancient Mr. Burns is supposed to be, he answers the phone with “Ahoy-Hoy”, indicating that he was around when the debate over “Ahoy-Hoy” versus “Hello” was in the public consciousness.

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