“This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
—Western Union internal memo, 1876
We take the telephone system for granted. When we pick up the phone, we expect a dial tone. When we dial a telephone number, we expect a ring or a busy signal, and it always seems to be there. See Figure 1.1, which shows the increase in telephone service in the United States. By 2001 we see that over 100 million households have telephone service, which is an increase of 10 million households since 1990.
 FCC's Trends in Telephone Service, Authors Unknowns, May 2002