The History of Ringtones and How They’re Used Today


While it is hard to imagine now, cell phones are a relatively new invention to the modern era. Originally being relegated to one’s house or car, the earliest cell phones, during the early ’70s, were quite large and bulky and, as opposed to the unfettered accesses to games, music internet, and the like, they could only be used to make phone calls. This was the case for the next few decades until the late 90’s to mid-2000s, where they could finally send and receive messages. It was around this time that “ring tones” first made their debut.

Ringtones, originally, were simply a set ringing tone (as per the name) that went off whenever the phone would sound off, alerting the person that they were being called. There was no alteration or distinction between one phone and another and each had the same sound known as a “monophonic tone”. This sound operated on a very elementary sequencing technology, producing a sequence of musical notes that played using one instrument. During the late ’90s and early 2000s, however, this very much changed. As cell phones had become much smaller, cheaper, and more commercially available, younger and younger audiences were now getting their hands on it. Kids born in the ’80s and ’90s were now regularly using them at early ages. It was because of this that companies would start creating ways to “personalize” one’s phone. While this was fairly limited at the time, ringtones (and its color) were the greatest way to make one’s phone unique.

Today, many phones have an assortment of different tones and sounds one can use for various things. The Polyphonic Tone, the True Tone, Song Tunes, and Video Ringtones:


The evolution of the standard monophonic tone, polyphonic (as the name implies) tones can produce various musical notes from differing instruments simultaneously. These are the “base line” ringtones that come standard in most phones today. In performance, polyphonic ringtones can play up to 40 separate notes at once.


Truetone ringtones are a type of ringtone whereby the user installs a recorded sound from MP3, WMV, or WAV setups. The recordings are generally only a few seconds long (between 10 and 20) and can be whatever the owner wants. This can also be small clipped songs recorded and made into a ring tone.


Song Tunes ringtones use the operator’s voice and syndicate it with a background track to form a “sing-along” style tone.


Somewhat of an uncommon ringtone. Video Ringtones use video content in addition to one of the other tonal methods to produces a small video-like ringtone. It is rarely used in phones today.You can try it at ringtone download


In today’s day and age, ringtones can be used in a large number of ways. Some in ways that might surprise you. One can set distinct and personalized ringtones for a specific person in their contact list, allowing them to know who is calling them without expressly looking at their phone. This adds a feeling of personability and character to each entry. They have been used as a way to connect with co-workers and friends, especially young adults and teenagers.

As phones have stepped out of the realm of simply sending and receiving calls from one another, ringtones themselves have shifted into other places of use. Rather than simply for accepting phone calls, ringtones are now used for any means of notification. This can range from timer usage, to alarm clocks or alerts when something happens through a specific app. These ringtones can tell you when to take the dog out when to drink water when your favorite Youtuber content creator has posted a video, or someone has contacted you via social media.


As stated earlier, as Cell phones have become more and more commercially accessible, ring tones were one of the few methods one could use to differentiate their phone from another. As the years went on and phones became more and more advanced and were given more features, ringtones became less of a selling point. Now, it’s expected that one’s phone have numerous types of ringtones to access and others that they can download at a later time.

Still, even now, as we have more and more advanced types of phones with better features and services, it’s always nice to hear the instrumental version of one of your favorite songs, rather than the standard ringing of a phone, when you get a call.