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At the end of the 19th Century the phone had found applications in the civil and military departments, including the Russian Navy. One of the initiators of such use of telephones was a naval officer called E.V. Kolbasiev. Despite serious difficulties and many obstacles, he managed to organize the domestic production of telephone equipment and ​oversaw its introduction on Russian fleet warships.

The inventor was born in Odessa on 3 (15) June 1862. Upon graduating from St. Petersburg Naval Academy in 1883 Kolbasiev was enrolled in the crew for training divers. In 1891, by order of the command, he was promoted to lieutenant and was invited to teach in Kronstadt Diving School where Kolbasiev participated in the development of the more technical aspects of diving..

To his credit, Kolbasiev developed a system of telephone communication practically suitable for communication with a diver. One of Kolbasiev's first telephone exchanges consisted of three phones: the diver had two (one was used as a microphone) and the other held by the command post. He later improved its design to allow for the use of five phones. In 1896 in Sevastopol, the inventor held successful tests of his underwater phones.

Kolbasiev had, however, begun developments in the field of telecommunications much earlier, in 1886 in fact. His first telephones (1886) were kept on the battleship 'Peter the Great', the others (1891 to 1894) on other ships.

In 1893, in Kronstadt, Kolbasiev founded a specialist workshop for the production and repair of diving equipment, telephone systems and signaling devices for vehicles. This workshop played a great part in equipping the Russian fleet with technical equipment. Handsets and Popov radio systems were later manufactured there.

Kolbasiev's equipment could be found on the battleships Potemkin, Borodino, Eagle, the cruiser Oleg and many other ships that required a large number of handsets. The installation of phones was often performed by the inventor himself.

In 1904 he created an internal ship communications system, which for its time was perfect.

Kolbasiev also developed a method of underwater lighting. He also designed several submarines and floating mines.

E.V. Kolbasiev died on November 20, 1918 aged 56 in the town of Inkerman near Sevastopol. He was killed by local bandits.