Twenty-five Years of Transcontinental Telephony


    IT is recalled in the Laboratories Recordof the Bell Telephone System that on January 25, 1915, just twenty-five years ago, the first transcontinental telephone call was made across America and the east and west were united. President Woodrow Wilson talked from the White House across the country testifying to the nation's pride “that this vital cord should have been stretched across America as a sample of our energy and enterprise”. The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, in New York, repeated across the continent to San Francisco the first words ever heard over a telephone, namely, his call to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you,” to the same T. A. Watson who had heard them in the garret workshop in Boston in 1876. That ceremony ushered in transcontinental service twenty-five years ago. At that time it cost 20.70 dollars to call San Francisco from New York. Now it costs 6.50 dollars for a station to station call and only 4.25 dollars after seven in the evening and all day on Sunday. In 1915 it took about half an hour, on the average, to make a connexion; now most calls are put through without ‘hanging up’. The Bell System concludes by saying: “These are measures of progress in the never-ending effort of the Bell System to give faster, clearer, more useful and courteous service to the people of the United States”.

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    Twenty-five Years of Transcontinental Telephony. Nature 145, 457 (1940).

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