The picture to the left shows the first TTY modem invented by Robert H. Weitbrecht in 1964 and can be viewed at RADSCC, Wallace Center. By the 1980s, the TTY was in wide use by the Deaf community. The RIT/NTID Deaf Studies, Culture & History Archive also has a Braille TTY that had a Braille tape output invented by Lee Brody. The DeafBlind communication devices have developed with tactile Braille output and DB individuals can use e-mail, text, and send instant messages.
Use the Gallaudet Encyclopedia and the Sage Deaf Studies Encyclopedia to get background information about telecommunications, such as the TTY (teletypewriter) and the TDD (telecommunication device for the deaf). Use the TDI National Directory to find a timeline of TTY development. The first TTYs were clunky Western Union teletype machines. Later, the device became smaller and more portable. Deaf people used text shortcuts such as GA (go ahead) and SK (stop keying) when typing on their devices. We have examples of TTYs and TDDs in the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies, Culture & History Archive.
TTY relay services were developed to assist Deaf and hearing users in making phone calls. A deaf person would call the TTY operator who called the hearing person and facilitate communications between the two parties. The operator would voice to the hearing person what the deaf person was typing and type to the deaf person what the hearing person was voicing. When we got the videophone, the relay system continued. The Deaf person calls an interpreter who signs to the deaf person and voices for the hearing person. Every state provided a videophone for every Deaf customer who qualified for it and has internet services.
This image is from Harris Communications. It shows a phone with a screen for captions and the dial keyboard. Captioned telephones started appearing in 2007 and enabled voice callers to use their voice and read the text on the display screen.
The image at left is from Flickr under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. It shows a gray and white keyboard and a small screen above it. The Sidekick became popular in 2002 with the Deaf community as it provided a mobile device one could carry. Deaf people used texting, e-mail, and instant messaging with these devices and are still popular today.
Use the RIT Libraries Catalog to find books and DVDs about this topic. Use the keywords deaf* AND (TTY OR telecommunications OR teletypewriter*) or find general information on telecommunications and cell phones.
Check out The Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia for more information about the history of the Internet, and biographies of key figures. You can also use the keywords Internet and history to find more books about this topic.