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Service Lines and Switchboards

In 1877, construction of the first regular telephone line from Boston to Somerville, Massachusetts was completed. By the end of 1880, there were 47,900 telephones in the United States. The following year telephone service between Boston and Providence had been established. Service between New York and Chicago started in 1892, and between New York and Boston in 1894. Transcontinental service by overhead wire was not inaugurated until 1915. The first switchboard was set up in Boston in 1877. On January 17, 1882, Leroy Firman received the first patent for a telephone switchboard. 

Exchanges and Rotary Dialing

The first regular telephone exchange was established in New Haven in 1878. Early telephones were leased in pairs to subscribers. The subscriber was required to put up his own line to connect with another. In 1889, Almon B. Strowger a Kansas City undertaker, invented a switch that could connect one line to any of 100 lines by using relays and sliders. This switch became known as "The Strowger Switch" and was still in use in some telephone offices well over 100 years later. Almon Strowger was issued a patent on March 11, 1891 for the first automatic telephone exchange.

The first exchange using the Strowger switch was opened in La Porte, Indiana in 1892 and initially subscribers had a button on their telephone to produce the required number of pulses by tapping. An associate of Strowgers' invented the rotary dial in 1896 which replaced the button. In 1943, Philadelphia was the last major area to give up dual service (rotary and button).

The history of the the telephone and telephone related devices.

On the Road to the Telephone
Sometimes several inventors have the same idea at the same time, but only the one whose invention is successful in practice stays in our minds.

Private Line's Telephone Pages
A very well detailed and accurate website on the history of the telephone.

The History of the Telephone
An entire book written in 1910 on the history of the telephone up to that time.

Understanding the Telephone
Everyone knows what a telephone is, but how does it work?

1964 Touch-Tone Phones
In 1941, the first touch-tone system that used tones in the voice frequency range rather than pulses generated by rotary dials was installed in Baltimore, MD.

The History of the Digital Telephone Devices
At Bell Labs in 1948, mathematician Dr. Claude Shannon published "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," which promoted the concept of communicating in binary code. Shannon's paper formed the basis of the entire digital communications revolution.

The Invention of the Alexander GRaham Bell Telephone
Alexander Graham Bell's path to the invention of the Bell telephone.

Telephone Instruments
A look at how the instrument itself developed and changed.

Cellular/Mobile Phones
History of Cellular or Mobile Phones
PCS Technology: Digital Cellular Phones
Phone-Card-Phone: Disposable Cell Phones
Cordless Phones

The History of Pagers, Answering Machines, Telephony Software
Caller ID, Telephone Books, Yellow Pages, 911, Pay Phones
The History of Pagers
History of Answering Machines
Telephony Software - Krisztina Holly
Computerized Telephone Switching System - Erna Schneider Hoover
Harold Stephen Black: invented the wave translation system, eliminates feedback distortion in telephone calls.

©Mary Bellis

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