Thursday, November 29, 2007

1915: first coast-to-coast phone call in the US

The first transcontinental telephone call in the United States took place in 1915, and required five operators and 23 minutes to set up the call, from San Francisco to New York.

For many years, long-distance calls required an operator at the calling end and another at the receiving end, and there were often more operators needed at intermediate points to build the route through the network, one segment at a time.

In 1943, AT&T installed the first automatic toll switch, a number 4 crossbar, in Philadelphia, enabling one operator to complete a long-distance call. But the operator might still dial up to 12 digits of routing codes to build the route to the destination, then dial the local phone number, another four to seven digits.

In 1951, AT&T initiated direct-dialed long-distance service. (info from AT&T, photo from Northern Illinois University Libraries )

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 1975, I actually met the man who first spoke on that call. He was a 16 year old messenger boy at AT&T back then and was invited to the boardroom to watch history in the making. One of the executives had to go to the lavatory and the kid got to sit in at the table where 6 or so telehones were placed and suddenly the Mayor of San Fran came on his phone. And what did they talk about? Car racing, which was quite new and of high interest to many a man and boy.
How did I come to meet this man? I was a telephone repairman working in Paramus, NJ, and I had the pleasure of talking with this nice man for 30 minutes over coffee. Hey, he was a phone guy, too.