A long long time ago …. I had one of these beautiful Royal Albert china telephones! Well it was just for show, it didn’t work. After a while it got broken by my cat. Our Shandy cat loved to sun himself on the window-sill in my study. One day he hopped off the window sill onto my low book-shelf on which my phone sat — kitty accidentally knocked the telephone off the book shelf onto the carpet and it broke.
Never mind. But lately I got to remembering when we had a real dial telephone at my childhood home and even a telephone stand and chair which you sat on …. and if you had lots of numbers toward 9 or the zero at the end of the dial to use …. you would have to wait on tenterhooks when you were in a hurry waiting for the rotary dial to slowly ever so slowly wind its way back a circuit, so you could put your finger in the 9 or the 8 or whatever!
Tonight I saw someone on a television auction programme selling a retro rotary dial telephone and it got me thinking what would it have been like to have been there at the time of the switchboard exchanges — telephoning the Operator and asking to be put through to someone.
The telephone exchange is a telecommunication system which revolutionized the use of the telephone. When Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson invented the telephone, the utilization of this device was limited. By 1876, the longest call made was a distance of only two miles. The use of the telephone was then limited to business purposes.
In 1878, George W. Coy conducted the first US telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut. Like the telegraph, the telephone exchange is based on a network, and allows interconnection of more than two users at a distance. The manual switchboard was then introduced for the first time. This device is at the core of the telephone exchange and acts as a hub for all the telecommunication activities. Using electrical cords or switchers, the switchboard permitted the connection with different lines through a manual procedure performed in central offices.
The telephone exchange and the telephone switchboard contributed to the vision of a more connected world, where distance was no longer an obstacle to sharing thoughts. With the use of the dial tone system introduced in the 1920s, that caused the automation of switching systems, the work of switchboard operator has changed. Switchboard operator became telephone operators or receptionists.
For the source of the above & fascinating information about women and switchboard operators, click here.
Did you know that a rotary dial is a component of a telephone that implements a signaling technology in telecommunications known as pulse dialing. It is used when initiating a telephone call to transmit the destination telephone number to a telephone exchange.
The frequency of pulses is determined by the number on the dial which the caller selects, with the user manually turning the dial to a fixed point with their finger before releasing it. This causes the dial to return to its starting position due to an internal recoil spring, while simultaneously generating a series of electrical pulses that interrupt the flow of current on the telephone’s line. These pulses correspond to the digit selected, so if the user rotates the dial from, say, ‘7’, then seven pulses will be sent down the line to the switching office.
Inside the body of the phone a centrifugal governor ensures that the dial’s rotation is moderated to a constant rate, with a shaft on the governor turning a cam that opens and closes a switch contact. If the contact is open, the line’s current is stopped from flowing, thereby creating a dial pulse, while when closed, there is a constant flow of current.
At the electromechanical switching office, these pulses are received by a sender system, which records the pulses – ie the dialled number – before routing it to a selector system which makes the outgoing connection to the telephone of the appropriate property.
READ MORE – How it Works Daily – Rotary dial telephones
In 1889, the first public coin telephone was installed by inventor William Gray at a bank in Hartford, Conn. It was a “postpay” machine (coins were deposited after the call was placed). We’ve come a long way since the Switchboard Operators to the mobile phone.
The “pre-pay” phone debuted in Chicago in 1898.
If you’ve ever heard the “hang up tone” and the familiar telephone ring, join the Club. Those were the good old days with no texting, when people actually spoke to each other!!
In 2017, what does it cost you to make a standard call at a Australian Public phone booth?