“Hello” Vs. “Ahoy-hoy” – the technology world’s first format war

It is Nov 21st today and it is World Hello Day. So, a warm hello to all of you readers. I thought i will share something about “Hello” on this auspicious day, that i had come across a while ago. As you all know, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. You may also know that Thomas Alva Edison invented the carbon microphone that was used in the Bell telephone receivers. Given their interests in the nascent telephone industry,  a battle arose between the two titans about the word that people should use as a greeting when answering their telephone calls. Bell wanted everyone to use the term “Ahoy-hoy” and Edison wanted people to use the term “Hello”.  Of course, Edison won and we still use the term “Hello”. During this tussle, Edison employed a clever strategy – he wrote a letter to Mr. T.B.A David who was then the President of the Central District and Printing Telegraph Company of Pittsburgh and convinced him of the merits of using Hello as a greeting. Edison convinced him by saying  that Hello could be heard atleast 10-20 feet away compared to Ahoy-hoy and that they wouldn’t need to use an additional call bell saving them costs. To draw a modern day parallel, this is akin to Sony influencing the Studios to publish their movies in the Blu-ray format. Not quite the same, but quite similar. Later on when the telephone exchange was unveiled in 1877 based on the idea of an Hungarian named Tivadar Puskas, Puskas answered the phone with a Hungarian “Hallom” in a demonstration. Hallom meant “I hear you” in Hungarian. Since it sounds strikingly similar to Hello, the word Hello entered the public imagination and became imbedded into our culture. That is how the first format war in the technology world was won by Edison. References:
1.  Hello in the Wikipedia.


  1. Anonymous said November 21, 2006, 2:56 pm:

    Thanks Sukumar, and hello to you.


  2. Anonymous said November 22, 2006, 1:16 am:

    Thanks for dropping by April. I am honored.

  3. Anonymous said November 24, 2006, 6:01 pm:

    Hello Sukumar. I really enjoyed this post. As you can imagine, I found the part about “hallom” really interested. I have forwarded this like to several friends.

  4. Anonymous said November 24, 2006, 10:08 pm:

    Thanks Bill. I am glad that you liked it.