It is unlikely that Philip Reiss, researcher into Helmholtz’s wave theory, was particularly looking for a system to transmit the human voice. Physics, as the supervening social necessity in play, did not require it. Indeed, there was no clearly defined need for such a thing in any sphere, although as the middle decades of the century progressed one did emerge. The single major factor impacting on a whole range of technological developments in these years, including telephony, was the legal creation of the modern corporation.
The limited liability company first came into its own in the years after the Civil War in America or, in Britain, after the Companies Act of 1862. These refined commercial operations necessitated the modern office and the building to house it. Up to the 1870s, even in the USA, five-storey streetscapes were the norm. The tallest building in the world in 1873 was the Tribune office in New York. It had eleven floors (Leapman 1983:50). The seventeen-storey Mondanock building was erected in 1881.
This age found its form, as early as the 1880s in America, in a new type of office building: symbolically a sort of vertical human filing case, with uniform windows, a uniform facade, uniform accommodations, rising floor by floor in competition for light and air and above all financial prestige with other skyscrapers. The abstractions of high finance produced their exact material embodiment in these buildings.
This in turn accelerated the introduction of the geared hydraulic passenger elevator (C. 1885), 1 the typewriter (patented first in 1714 but only appearing in its modern shift-key form in 1878), the modern mechanical desk calculator (1875)