Imagine life without a telephone! Yet, it was only 100 years ago that the Bell Company installed its first home telephones in Boston. Bostonians of 1882 marveled at this device that would carry their voices for a range of 20 miles. The telephone had been invented by Alexander Graham Bell just six years before, but was immediately welcomed and accepted. By the end of the century, more than 634,000 were in use; today there are more than 300 million telephones.
The original phone, called a ''magneto wall set,'' was a carefully crafted instrument housed in oak or walnut, with a hand crank, call bells, and a writing shelf. In commemoration of its 100th anniversary, the Bell System is bringing out an adaptation of this phone, a look-alike in solid oak casing, but one that incorporates all of today's modern technology. It is called the American Edition Circa 1882 and is one of four models, all inspired by antique phones, now being introduced as the Americana Collection at all Bell phone centers.
These phones are in strong contrast to all the sleek, new contemporary models , including the fun and practical Big Button and the new cordless phone called ''Nomad 1000.'' At a time when security in the home is a matter of concern, Bell has also made available a small pamphlet called ''Home Security Hotline,'' which is available free from Susan Ames, P.O. Box 2763, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. 10017.
Here are a few of the tips shared by Miss Ames, who is a consultant to the company:
* If you get an anonymous call, particularly an obscene one, hang up immediately. Never talk to the caller, give information about yourself, act frustrated or annoyed. Train your children to do the same. If nuisance calls persist, call your local telephone business office and report them.
* Train your children to say ''Mother (Father) can't come to the phone right now,'' rather than ''Nobody's at home but me.''
* If your child is very young, put a red dot by the 0 for Operator and make certain he or she knows how to ask for help. Once old enough, teach your child how to use emergency numbers you've put next to the phone and how to dial ''911 .''