In the Washington, D.C. experiment, Bell and Tainter succeeded in communicating clearly over a distance of some 700 ft. (about 213 m), using plain sunlight as the light source. The receiver was a parabolic mirror with the selenium cells in its focal point. The selenium cells had an electrical resistance varying between 300 Ω and 100 Ω.
Although the photophone was an extremely important invention, it was many years before the significance of Bell's work was fully recognized. Bell's original photophone failed to protect transmissions from outside interferences, such as clouds, that easily disrupted transport. Until the development of modern fiber optics, technology for the secure transport of light inhibited use of Bell's invention.