OTHER THAN by direct voice, telephones are the most important means of personal communication in the developed countries; and in N America, where local calls are not directly paid for or are exceedingly cheap, telephone conversation ousts direct speech into second place. Moreover, telephones do not carry conversations only, but also data and facsimile transmissions. The immediacy of the telephone is its great advantage over other forms of communication while the coverage of the global network is immense and growing; thirty years ago transatlantic calls were very rarely made, today they are commonplace. Mobile telephones have grown very considerably in numbers and it will not be long before the personal mobile telephone is as accepted as the telephone in the home or office. Yet only 25 years ago the last manual exchange in England closed1.
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