Ten years into the 20th century, the United States citizenry were still enjoying the afterglow of a remarkable generation of economic growth, innovation, and expansion.
Popular interests consisted of going to the movies, doing the Tango, and reading the Saturday Evening Post. A hands-off President, William Howard Taft, was in the White House, and people were enjoying clever inventions such as traffic lights, the refrigerator, and the telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone on March 7, 1876, but initially it was considered no more than a passing novelty. In fact, Western Union passed up the opportunity to purchase the Bell patents for $100,000.