History of the Telephone Casson 1910 04 Art of Telephone
Geschichte der Erfindung und Entwicklung des Telephons. Sprache des Werks: English. Version: 1.
- History of the Telephone .
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- History of the Telephone
- BY HERBERT N. CASSON
CHAPTER IV - THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ART
Four wire-using businesses were already in the field when the telephone was born: the fire-alarm, burglar-alarm, telegraph, and messenger- boy service; and at first, as might have been expected, the humble little telephone was huddled in with these businesses as a sort of poor relation. To the general public, it was a mere scientific toy; but there were a few men, not many, in these wire-stringing trades, who saw a glimmering chance of creating a telephone business. They put telephones on the wires that were then in use. As these became popular, they added others. Each of their customers wished to be able to talk to every one else. And so, having undertaken to give telephone service, they presently found themselves battling with the most intricate and baffling engineering problem of modern times--the construction around the tele- phone of such a mechanism as would bring it into universal service.
The first of these men was Thomas A. Watson, the young mechanic who had been hired as Bell's helper. He began a work that to-day requires an army of twenty-six thousand people. He was for a couple of years the total engineering and manufacturing department of the telephone business, and by 1880 had taken out sixty patents for his own suggestions. It was Watson who took the telephone as Bell had made it, really a toy, with its diaphragm so delicate that a warm breath would put it out of order, and toughened it into a more rugged machine. Bell had used a disc of fragile gold-beaters' skin with a patch of sheet-iron glued to the centre. He could not believe, for a time, that a disc of all-iron would vibrate under the slight influence of a spoken word. But he and Watson noticed that when the patch was bigger the talking was better, and presently they threw away the gold-beaters' skin and used the iron alone.
Also, it was Watson who spent months experimenting with all sorts and sizes of iron discs, so as to get the one that would best convey the sound. If the iron was too thick, he discovered, the voice was shrilled into a Punch-and-Judy squeal; and if it was too thin, the voice became a hollow and sepulchral groan, as if the speaker had his head in a barrel. Other months, too, were spent in finding out the proper size and shape for the air cavity in front of the disc. And so, after the telephone had been perfected, IN PRINCIPLE, a full year was required to lift it out of the class of scientific toys, and another year or two to present it properly to the business world.
Until 1878 all Bell telephone apparatus was made by Watson in Charles Williams's little shop in Court Street, Boston--a building long since transformed into a five-cent theatre. But the business soon grew too big for the shop. Orders fell five weeks behind. Agents stormed and fretted. Some action had to be taken quickly, so licenses were given to four other manufacturers to make bells, switchboards, and so forth. By this time the Western Electric Company of Chicago had begun to make the infringing Gray-Edison telephones for the Western Union, so that there were soon six groups of mechanics puzzling their wits over the new talk-machinery.
By 1880 there was plenty of telephonic apparatus being made, but in too many different varieties. Not all the summer gowns of that year presented more styles and fancies. The next step, if there was to be any degree of uniformity, was plainly to buy and consolidate these six companies; and by 1881 Vail had done this. It was the first merger in telephone history. It was a step of immense importance. Had it not been taken, the telephone business would have been torn into fragments by the civil wars between rival inventors.
From this time the Western Electric became the headquarters of telephonic apparatus. It was the Big Shop, all roads led to it. No matter where a new idea was born, sooner or later it came knocking at the door of the Western Electric to receive a material body. Here were the skilled workmen who became the hands of the telephone business. And here, too, were many of the ablest inventors and engineers, who did most to develop the cables and switchboards of to-day.
In Boston, Watson had resigned in 1882, and in his place, a year or two later stood a timely new arrival named E. T. Gilliland. This really notable man was a friend in need to the telephone. He had been a manufacturer of electrical apparatus in Indianapolis, until Vail's policy of consolidation drew him into the central group of pioneers and pathfinders. For five years Gilliland led the way as a developer of better and cheaper equipment. He made the best of a most difficult situation. He was so handy, so resourceful, that he invariably found a way to unravel the mechanical tangles that perplexed the first telephone agents, and this, too, without compelling them to spend large sums of capital. He took the ideas and apparatus that were then in existence, and used them to carry the telephone business through the most critical period of its life, when there was little time or money to risk on experiments. He took the peg switchboard of the telegraph, for in- stance, and developed it to its highest point, to a point that was not even imagined possible by any one else. It was the most practical and complete switchboard of its day, and held the field against all comers until it was superseded by the modern type of board, vastly more elaborate and expensive.
By 1884, gathered around Gilliland in Boston and the Western Electric in Chicago, there came to be a group of mechanics and high-school graduates, very young men, mostly, who had no reputations to lose; and who, partly for a living and mainly for a lark, plunged into the difficulties of this new business that had at that time little history and less prestige. These young adventurers, most of whom are still alive, became the makers of industrial history. They were unquestionably the founders of the present science of telephone engineering.
The problem that they dashed at so lightheartedly was much larger than any of them imagined. It was a Gibraltar of impossibilities. It was on the face of it a fantastic nightmare of a task--to weave such a web of wires, with in- terlocking centres, as would put any one telephone in touch with every other. There was no help for them in books or colleges. Watson, who had acquired a little knowledge, had become a shipbuilder. Electrical engineering, as a profession, was unborn. And as for their telegraphic experience, while it certainly helped them for a time, it started them in the wrong direction and led them to do many things which had afterwards to be undone.
The peculiar electric current that these young pathfinders had to deal with is perhaps the quickest, feeblest, and most elusive force in the world. It is so amazing a thing that any description of it seems irrational. It is as gentle as a touch of a baby sunbeam, and as swift as the lightning flash. It is so small that the electric current of a single incandescent lamp is greater 500,000,000 times. Cool a spoonful of hot water just one degree, and the energy set free by the cooling will operate a telephone for ten thousand years. Catch the falling tear-drop of a child, and there will be sufficient water-power to carry a spoken message from one city to another.
Such is the tiny Genie of the Wire that had to be protected and trained into obedience. It was the most defenceless of all electric sprites, and it had so many enemies. Enemies! The world was populous with its enemies. There was the lightning, its elder brother, striking at it with murderous blows. There were the telegraphic and light-and-power currents, its strong and malicious cousins, chasing and assaulting it whenever it ventured too near. There were rain and sleet and snow and every sort of moisture, lying in wait to abduct it. There were rivers and trees and flecks of dust. It seemed as if all the known and unknown agencies of nature were in conspiracy to thwart or annihilate this gentle little messenger who had been conjured into life by the wizardry of Alexander Graham Bell.
All that these young men had received from Bell and Watson was that part of the telephone that we call the receiver. This was practically the sum total of Bell's invention, and remains to-day as he made it. It was then, and is yet, the most sensitive instrument that has ever been put to general use in any country. It opened up a new world of sound. It would echo the tramp of a fly that walked across a table, or repeat in New Orleans the prattle of a child in New York. This was what the young men received, and this was all. There were no switchboards of any account, no cables of any value, no wires that were in any sense adequate, no theory of tests or signals, no exchanges, NO TELEPHONE SYSTEM OF ANY SORT WHATEVER.
As for Bell's first telephone lines, they were as simple as clothes-lines. Each short little wire stood by itself, with one instrument at each end. There were no operators, switchboards, or exchanges. But there had now come a time when more than two persons wanted to be in the same conversational group. This was a larger use of the telephone; and while Bell himself had foreseen it, he had not worked out a plan whereby it could be carried out. Here was the new problem, and a most stupendous one--how to link together three telephones, or three hundred, or three thousand, or three million, so that any two of them could be joined at a moment's notice.
And that was not all. These young men had not only to battle against mystery and "the powers of the air"; they had not only to protect their tiny electric messenger, and to create a system of wire highways along which he could run up and down safely; they had to do more. They had to make this system so simple and fool-proof that every one--every one except the deaf and dumb--could use it without any previous experience. They had to educate Bell's Genie of the Wire so that he would not only obey his masters, but anybody--anybody who could speak to him in any language.
No doubt, if the young men had stopped to consider their life-work as a whole, some of them might have turned back. But they had no time to philosophize. They were like the boy who learns how to swim by being pushed into deep water. Once the telephone business was started, it had to be kept going; and as it grew, there came one after another a series of congestions. Two courses were open; either the business had to be kept down to suit the apparatus, or the apparatus had to be developed to keep pace with the business. The telephone men, most of them, at least, chose development; and the brilliant inventions that afterwards made some of them famous were compelled by sheer necessity and desperation.
The first notable improvement upon Bell's invention was the making of the transmitter, in 1877, by Emile Berliner. This, too, was a romance. Berliner, as a poor German youth of nineteen, had landed in Castle Garden in 1870 to seek his fortune. He got a job as "a sort of bottle-washer at six dollars a week," he says, in a chemical shop in New York. At nights he studied science in the free classes of Cooper Union. Then a druggist named Engel gave him a copy of Muller's book on physics, which was precisely the stimulus needed by his creative brain. In 1876 he was fascinated by the telephone, and set out to construct one on a different plan. Several months later he had succeeded and was overjoyed to receive his first patent for a telephone transmitter. He had by this time climbed up from his bottle-washing to be a clerk in a drygoods store in Washington; but he was still poor and as unpractical as most in- ventors. Joseph Henry, the Sage of the American scientific world, was his friend, though too old to give him any help. Consequently, when Edison, two weeks later, also invented a transmitter, the prior claim of Berliner was for a time wholly ignored. Later the Bell Company bought Berliner's patent and took up his side of the case. There was a seemingly endless succession of delays--fourteen years of the most vexatious delays--until finally the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Berliner, and not Edison, was the original inventor of the transmitter.
From first to last, the transmitter has been the product of several minds. Its basic idea is the varying of the electric current by varying the pressure between two points. Bell unquestionably suggested it in his famous patent, when he wrote of "increasing and diminishing the resistance." Berliner was the first actually to construct one. Edison greatly improved it by using soft carbon instead of a steel point. A Kentucky professor, David E. Hughes, started a new line of development by adapting a Bell telephone into a "microphone," a fantastic little instrument that would detect the noise made by a fly in walking across a table. Francis Blake, of Boston, changed a microphone into a practical transmitter. The Rev. Henry Hunnings, an English clergyman, hit upon the happy idea of using carbon in the form of small granules. And one of the Bell experts, named White, improved the Hunnings transmitter into its present shape. Both transmitter and receiver seem now to be as complete an artificial tongue and ear as human ingenuity can make them. They have persistently grown more elaborate, until today a telephone set, as it stands on a desk, contains as many as one hundred and thirty separate pieces, as well as a saltspoonful of glistening granules of carbon.
Next after the transmitter came the problem of the MYSTERIOUS NOISES. This was, perhaps, the most weird and mystifying of all the telephone problems. The fact was that the telephone had brought within hearing distance a new wonder- world of sound. All wires at that time were single, and ran into the earth at each end, making what was called a "grounded circuit." And this connection with the earth, which is really a big magnet, caused all manner of strange and uncouth noises on the telephone wires.
Noises! Such a jangle of meaningless noises had never been heard by human ears. There were spluttering and bubbling, jerking and rasping, whistling and screaming. There were the rustling of leaves, the croaking of frogs, the hissing of steam, and the flapping of birds' wings. There were clicks from telegraph wires, scraps of talk from other telephones, and curious little squeals that were unlike any known sound. The lines running east and west were noisier than the lines running north and south. The night was noisier than the day, and at the ghostly hour of midnight, for what strange reason no one knows, the babel was at its height. Watson, who had a fanciful mind, suggested that perhaps these sounds were signals from the inhabitants of Mars or some other sociable planet. But the matter- of-fact young telephonists agreed to lay the blame on "induction"--a hazy word which usually meant the natural meddlesomeness of electricity.
Whatever else the mysterious noises were, they were a nuisance. The poor little telephone business was plagued almost out of its senses. It was like a dog with a tin can tied to its tail. No matter where it went, it was pursued by this unearthly clatter. "We were ashamed to present our bills," said A. A. Adee, one of the first agents; "for no matter how plainly a man talked into his telephone, his language was apt to sound like Choctaw at the other end of the line."
All manner of devices were solemnly tried to hush the wires, and each one usually proved to be as futile as an incantation. What was to be done? Step by step the telephone men were driven back. They were beaten. There was no way to silence these noises. Reluctantly, they agreed that the only way was to pull up the ends of each wire from the tainted earth, and join them by a second wire. This was the "metallic circuit" idea. It meant an appalling increase in the use of wire. It would compel the rebuild- ing of the switchboards and the invention of new signal systems. But it was inevitable; and in 1883, while the dispute about it was in full blast, one of the young men quietly slipped it into use on a new line between Boston and Providence. The effect was magical. "At last," said the delighted manager, "we have a perfectly quiet line."
This young man, a small, slim youth who was twenty-two years old and looked younger, was no other than J. J. Carty, now the first of telephone engineers and almost the creator of his profession. Three years earlier he had timidly asked for a job as operator in the Boston exchange, at five dollars a week, and had shown such an aptitude for the work that he was soon made one of the captains. At thirty years of age he became a central figure in the development of the art of telephony.
What Carty has done is known by telephone men in all countries; but the story of Carty himself --who he is, and why--is new. First of all, he is Irish, pure Irish. His father had left Ireland as a boy in 1825. During the Civil War his father made guns in the city of Cambridge, where young John Joseph was born; and afterwards he made bells for church steeples. He was instinctively a mechanic and proud of his calling. He could tell the weight of a bell from the sound of it. Moses G. Farmer, the electrical inventor, and Howe, the creator of the sewing-machine, were his friends.
At five years of age, little John J. Carty was taken by his father to the shop where the bells were made, and he was profoundly impressed by the magical strength of a big magnet, that picked up heavy weights as though they were feathers. At the high school his favorite study was physics; and for a time he and another boy named Rolfe--now a distinguished man of science--carried on electrical experiments of their own in the cellar of the Rolfe house. Here they had a "Tom Thumb" telegraph, a telephone which they had ventured to improve, and a hopeless tangle of wires. Whenever they could afford to buy more wires and batteries, they went to a near-by store which supplied electrical apparatus to the professors and students of Harvard. This store, with its workshop in the rear, seemed to the two boys a veritable wonderland; and when Carty, a youth of eighteen, was compelled to leave school because of his bad eyesight, he ran at once and secured the glorious job of being boy-of-all-work in this store of wonders. So, when he became an operator in the Boston telephone exchange, a year later, he had already developed to a remarkable degree his natural genius for telephony.
Since then, Carty and the telephone business have grown up together, he always a little distance in advance. No other man has touched the apparatus of telephony at so many points. He fought down the flimsy, clumsy methods, which led from one snarl to another. He found out how to do with wires what Dickens did with words. "Let us do it right, boys, and then we won't have any bad dreams"--this has been his motif. And, as the crown and climax of his work, he mapped out the profession of telephone engineering on the widest and most comprehensive lines.
In Carty, the engineer evolved into the edu- cator. His end of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company became the University of the Telephone. He was himself a student by disposition, with a special taste for the writings of Faraday, the forerunner; Tyndall, the expounder; and Spencer, the philosopher. And in 1890, he gathered around him a winnowed group of college graduates--he has sixty of them on his staff to-day--so that he might bequeath to the telephone an engineering corps of loyal and efficient men.
The next problem that faced the young men of the telephone, as soon as they had escaped from the clamor of the mysterious noises, was the necessity of taking down the wires in the city streets and putting them underground. At first, they had strung the wires on poles and roof-tops. They had done this, not because it was cheap, but because it was the only possible way, so far as any one knew in that kindergarten period. A telephone wire required the daintiest of handling. To bury it was to smother it, to make it dull or perhaps entirely useless. But now that the number of wires had swollen from hun- dreds to thousands, the overhead method had been outgrown. Some streets in the larger cities had become black with wires. Poles had risen to fifty feet in height, then sixty--seventy-- eighty. Finally the highest of all pole lines was built along West Street, New York--every pole a towering Norway pine, with its top ninety feet above the roadway, and carrying thirty cross- arms and three hundred wires.
From poles the wires soon overflowed to housetops, until in New York alone they had overspread eleven thousand roofs. These roofs had to be kept in repair, and their chimneys were the deadly enemies of the iron wires. Many a wire, in less than two or three years, was withered to the merest shred of rust. As if these troubles were not enough, there were the storms of winter, which might wipe out a year's revenue in a single day. The sleet storms were the worst. Wires were weighted down with ice, often three pounds of ice per foot of wire. And so, what with sleet, and corrosion, and the cost of roof-repairing, and the lack of room for more wires, the telephone men were between the devil and the deep sea--between the urgent necessity of burying their wires, and the inexorable fact that they did not know how to do it.
Fortunately, by the time that this problem arrived, the telephone business was fairly well established. It had outgrown its early days of ridicule and incredulity. It was paying wages and salaries and even dividends. Evidently it had arrived on the scene in the nick of time-- after the telegraph and before the trolleys and electric lights. Had it been born ten years later, it might not have been able to survive. So delicate a thing as a baby telephone could scarcely have protected itself against the powerful currents of electricity that came into general use in 1886, if it had not first found out a way of hiding safely underground.
The first declaration in favor of an underground system was made by the Boston company in 1880. "It may be expedient to place our entire system underground," said the sorely perplexed manager, "whenever a practicable method is found of accomplishing: it." All manner of theories were afloat but Theodore N. Vail, who was usually the man of constructive imagination in emergencies, began in 1882 a series of actual experiments at Attleborough, Massachusetts, to find out exactly what could, and what could not, be done with wires that were buried in the earth.
A five-mile trench was dug beside a railway track. The work was done handily and cheaply by the labor-saving plan of hitching a locomotive to a plough. Five ploughs were jerked apart before the work was finished. Then, into this trench were laid wires with every known sort of covering. Most of them, naturally, were wrapped with rubber or gutta-percha, after the fashion of a submarine cable. When all were in place, the willing locomotive was harnessed to a huge wooden drag, which threw the ploughed soil back into the trench and covered the wires a foot deep. It was the most professional cable- laying that any one at that time could do, and it succeeded, not brilliantly, but well enough to encourage the telephone engineers to go ahead.
Several weeks later, the first two cables for actual use were laid in Boston and Brooklyn; and in 1883 Engineer J. P. Davis was set to grapple with the Herculean labor of putting a complete underground system in the wire-bound city of New York. This he did in spite of a bombardment of explosions from leaky gas- pipes, and with a woeful lack of experts and standard materials. All manner of makeshifts had to be tried in place of tile ducts, which were not known in 1883. Iron pipe was used at first, then asphalt, concrete, boxes of sand and creosoted wood. As for the wires, they were first wrapped in cotton, and then twisted into cables, usually of a hundred wires each. And to prevent the least taint of moisture, which means sudden death to a telephone current, these cables were invariably soaked in oil.
This oil-filled type of cable carried the telephone business safely through half a dozen years. But it was not the final type. It was preliminary only, the best that could be made at that time. Not one is in use to-day. In 1888 Theodore Vail set on foot a second series of experiments, to see if a cable could be made that was better suited as a highway for the delicate electric currents of the telephone. A young engineer named John A. Barrett, who had already made his mark as an expert, by finding a way to twist and transpose the wires, was set apart to tackle this problem. Being an economical Vermonter, Barrett went to work in a little wooden shed in the backyard of a Brooklyn foundry. In this foundry he had seen a unique machine that could be made to mould hot lead around a rope of twisted wires. This was a notable discovery. It meant TIGHT COVERINGS. It meant a victory over that most troublesome of enemies--moisture. Also, it meant that cables could henceforth be made longer, with fewer sleeves and splices, and without the oil, which had always been an unmitigated nuisance.
Next, having made the cable tight, Barrett set out to produce it more cheaply and by accident stumbled upon a way to make it immensely more efficient. All wires were at that time wrapped with cotton, and his plan was to find some less costly material that would serve the same purpose. One of his workmen, a Virginian, suggested the use of paper twine, which had been used in the South during the Civil War, when cotton was scarce and expensive. Barrett at once searched the South for paper twine and found it. He bought a barrel of it from a small factory in Richmond, but after a trial it proved to be too flimsy. If such paper could be put on flat, he reasoned, it would be stronger. Just then he heard of an erratic genius who had an invention for winding paper tape on wire for the use of milliners.
Paper-wound bonnet-wire! Who could imagine any connection between this and the telephone? Yet this hint was exactly what Barrett needed. He experimented until he had devised a machine that crumpled the paper around the wire, instead of winding it tightly. This was the finishing touch. For a time these paper-wound cables were soaked in oil, but in 1890 Engineer F. A. Pickernell dared to trust to the tightness of the lead sheathing, and laid a "dry core" cable, the first of the modern type, in one of the streets of Philadelphia. This cable was the event of the year. It was not only cheaper. It was the best-talking cable that had ever been harnessed to a telephone.
What Barrett had done was soon made clear. By wrapping the wire with loose paper, he had in reality cushioned it with AIR, which is the best possible insulator. Not the paper, but the air in the paper, had improved the cable. More air was added by the omission of the oil. And presently Barrett perceived that he had merely reproduced in a cable, as far as possible, the conditions of the overhead wires, which are separated by nothing but air.
By 1896 there were two hundred thousand miles of wire snugly wrapped in paper and lying in leaden caskets beneath the streets of the cities, and to-day there are six million miles of it owned by the affiliated Bell companies. Instead of blackening the streets, the wire nerves of the telephone are now out of sight under the roadway, and twining into the basements of buildings like a new sort of metallic ivy. Some cables are so large that a single spool of cable will weigh twenty-six tons and require a giant truck and a sixteen-horse team to haul it to its resting-place. As many as twelve hundred wires are often bunched into one sheath, and each cable lies loosely in a little duct of its own. It is reached by manholes where it runs under the streets and in little switching-boxes placed at intervals it is frayed out into separate pairs of wires that blossom at length into telephones.
Out in the open country there are still the open wires, which in point of talking are the best. In the suburbs of cities there are neat green posts with a single gray cable hung from a heavy wire. Usually, a telephone pole is made from a sixty-year-old tree, a cedar, chestnut, or juniper. It lasts twelve years only, so that the one item of poles is still costing the telephone companies several millions a year. The total number of poles now in the United States, used by telephone and telegraph companies, once covered an area, before they were cut down, as large as the State of Rhode Island.
But the highest triumph of wire-laying came when New York swept into the Skyscraper Age, and when hundreds of tall buildings, as high as the fall of the waters of Niagara, grew up like a range of magical cliffs upon the precious rock of Manhattan. Here the work of the telephone engineer has been so well done that although every room in these cliff-buildings has its telephone, there is not a pole in sight, not a cross-arm, not a wire. Nothing but the tip-ends of an immense system are visible. No sooner is a new skyscraper walled and roofed, than the telephones are in place, at once putting the tenants in touch with the rest of the city and the greater part of the United States. In a single one of these monstrous buildings, the Hudson Terminal, there is a cable that runs from basement to roof and ravels out to reach three thousand desks. This mighty geyser of wires is fifty tons in weight and would, if straightened out into a single line, connect New York with Chicago. Yet it is as invisible as the nerves and muscles of a human body.
During this evolution of the cable, even the wire itself was being remade. Vail and others had noticed that of all the varieties of wire that were for sale, not one was exactly suitable for a telephone system. The first telephone wire was of galvanized iron, which had at least the primitive virtue of being cheap. Then came steel wire, stronger but less durable. But these wires were noisy and not good conductors of electricity. An ideal telephone wire, they found, must be made of either silver or copper. Silver was out of the question, and copper wire was too soft and weak. It would not carry its own weight.
The problem, therefore, was either to make steel wire a better conductor, or to produce a copper wire that would be strong enough. Vail chose the latter, and forthwith gave orders to a Bridgeport manufacturer to begin experiments. A young expert named Thomas B. Doolittle was at once set to work, and presently appeared the first hard-drawn copper wire, made tough- skinned by a fairly simple process. Vail bought thirty pounds of it and scattered it in various parts of the United States, to note the effect upon it of different climates. One length of it may still be seen at the Vail homestead in Lyndonville, Vermont. Then this hard-drawn wire was put to a severe test by being strung between Boston and New York. This line was a brilliant success, and the new wire was hailed with great delight as the ideal servant of the telephone.
Since then there has been little trouble with copper wire, except its price. It was four times as good as iron wire, and four times as expensive. Every mile of it, doubled, weighed two hundred pounds and cost thirty dollars. On the long lines, where it had to be as thick as a lead pencil, the expense seemed to be ruinously great. When the first pair of wires was strung between New York and Chicago, for instance, it was found to weigh 870,000 pounds--a full load for a twenty-two-car freight train; and the cost of the bare metal was $130,000. So enormous has been the use of copper wire since then by the telephone companies, that fully one-fourth of all the capital invested in the telephone has gone to the owners of the copper mines.
For several years the brains of the telephone men were focussed upon this problem--how to reduce the expenditure on copper. One uncanny device, which would seem to be a mere inventor's fantasy if it had not already saved the telephone companies four million dollars or more, is known as the "phantom circuit." It enables three messages to run at the same time, where only two ran before. A double track of wires is made to carry three talk-trains running abreast, a feat made possible by the whimsical disposition of electricity, and which is utterly inconceivable in railroading. This invention, which is the nearest approach as yet to multiple telephony, was conceived by Jacobs in England and Carty in the United States.
But the most copper money has been saved --literally tens of millions of dollars--by persuading thin wires to work as efficiently as thick ones. This has been done by making better transmitters, by insulating the smaller wires with enamel instead of silk, and by placing coils of a certain nature at intervals upon the wires. The invention of this last device startled the telephone men like a flash of lightning out of a blue sky. It came from outside--from the quiet laboratory of a Columbia professor who had arrived in the United States as a young Hungarian immigrant not many years earlier. From this professor, Michael J. Pupin, came the idea of "loading" a telephone line, in such a way as to reinforce the electric current. It enabled a thin wire to carry as far as a thick one, and thus saved as much as forty dollars a wire per mile. As a reward for his cleverness, a shower of gold fell upon Pupin, and made him in an instant as rich as one of the grand-dukes of his native land.
It is now a most highly skilled occupation, supporting fully fifteen thousand families, to put the telephone wires in place and protect them against innumerable dangers. This is the profession of the wire chiefs and their men, a corps of human spiders, endlessly spinning threads under streets and above green fields, on the beds of rivers and the slopes of mountains, massing them in cities and fluffing them out among farms and villages. To tell the doings of a wire chief, in the course of his ordinary week's work, would in itself make a lively book of adventures. Even a washerwoman, with one lone, non-electrical clothes-line of a hundred yards to operate, has often enough trouble with it. But the wire chiefs of the Bell telephone have charge of as much wire as would make TWO HUNDRED MILLION CLOTHES-LINES--ten apiece to every family in the United States; and these lines are not punctuated with clothespins, but with the most delicate of electrical instruments.
The wire chiefs must detect trouble under a thousand disguises. Perhaps a small boy has thrown a snake across the wires or driven a nail into a cable. Perhaps some self-reliant citizen has moved his own telephone from one room to another. Perhaps a sudden rainstorm has splashed its fatal moisture upon an unwiped joint. Or perhaps a submarine cable has been sat upon by the Lusitania and flattened to death. But no matter what the trouble, a telephone system cannot be stopped for repairs. It cannot be picked up and put into a dry-dock. It must be repaired or improved by a sort of vivisection while it is working. It is an interlocking unit, a living, conscious being, half human and half machine; and an injury in any one place may cause a pain or sickness to its whole vast body.
And just as the particles of a human body change every six or seven years, without disturb- ing the body, so the particles of our telephone systems have changed repeatedly without any interruption of traffic. The constant flood of new inventions has necessitated several complete rebuildings. Little or nothing has ever been allowed to wear out. The New York system was rebuilt three times in sixteen years; and many a costly switchboard has gone to the scrap- heap at three or four years of age. What with repairs and inventions and new construction, the various Bell companies have spent at least $425,000,000 in the first ten years of the twentieth century, without hindering for a day the ceaseless torrent of electrical conversation.
The crowning glory of a telephone system of to-day is not so much the simple telephone itself, nor the maze and mileage of its cables, but rather the wonderful mechanism of the Switchboard. This is the part that will always remain mysterious to the public. It is seldom seen, and it remains as great a mystery to those who have seen it as to those who have not. Explanations of it are futile. As well might any one expect to learn Sanscrit in half an hour as to understand a switchboard by making a tour of investigation around it. It is not like anything else that either man or Nature has ever made. It defies all metaphors and comparisons. It cannot be shown by photography, not even in moving-pictures, because so much of it is concealed inside its wooden body. And few people, if any, are initiated into its inner mysteries except those who belong to its own cortege of inventors and attendants.
A telephone switchboard is a pyramid of inventions. If it is full-grown, it may have two million parts. It may be lit with fifteen thousand tiny electric lamps and nerved with as much wire as would reach from New York to Berlin. It may cost as much as a thousand pianos or as much as three square miles of farms in Indiana. The ten thousand wire hairs of its head are not only numbered, but enswathed in silk, and combed out in so marvellous a way that any one of them can in a flash be linked to any other. Such hair-dressing! Such puffs and braids and ringlet relays! Whoever would learn the utmost that may be done with copper hairs of Titian red, must study the fantastic coiffure of a telephone Switchboard.
If there were no switchboard, there would still be telephones, but not a telephone system. To connect five thousand people by telephone requires five thousand wires when the wires run to a switchboard; but without a switchboard there would have to be 12,497,500 wires--4,999 to every telephone. As well might there be a nerve-system without a brain, as a telephone system without a switchboard. If there had been at first two separate companies, one owning the telephone and the other the switchboard, neither could have done the business.
Several years before the telephone got a switchboard of its own, it made use of the boards that had been designed for the telegraph. These were as simple as wheelbarrows, and became absurdly inadequate as soon as the telephone business began to grow. Then there came adaptations by the dozen. Every telephone manager became by compulsion an inventor. There was no source of information and each exchange did the best it could. Hundreds of patents were taken out. And by 1884 there had come to be a fairly definite idea of what a telephone switchboard ought to be.
The one man who did most to create the switchboard, who has been its devotee for more than thirty years, is a certain modest and little known inventor, still alive and busy, named Charles E. Scribner. Of the nine thousand switchboard patents, Scribner holds six hundred or more. Ever since 1878, when he devised the first "jackknife switch," Scribner has been the wizard of the switchboard. It was he who saw most clearly its requirements. Hundreds of others have helped, but Scribner was the one man who persevered, who never asked for an easier job, and who in the end became the master of his craft.
It may go far to explain the peculiar genius of Scribner to say that he was born in 1858, in the year of the laying of the Atlantic Cable; and that his mother was at the time profoundly interested in the work and anxious for its success. His father was a judge in Toledo; but young Scribner showed no aptitude for the tangles of the law. He preferred the tangles of wire and system in miniature, which he and several other boys had built and learned to operate. These boys had a benefactor in an old bachelor named Thomas Bond. He had no special interest in telegraphy. He was a dealer in hides. But he was attracted by the cleverness of the boys and gave them money to buy more wires and more batteries. One day he noticed an invention of young Scribner's--a telegraph repeater.
"This may make your fortune," he said, "but no mechanic in Toledo can make a proper model of it for you. You must go to Chicago, where telegraphic apparatus is made." The boy gladly took his advice and went to the Western Electric factory in Chicago. Here he accidentally met Enos M. Barton, the head of the factory. Barton noted that the boy was a genius and offered him a job, which he accepted and has held ever since. Such is the story of the entrance of Charles E. Scribner into the telephone business, where he has been well-nigh indispensable.
His monumental work has been the development of the MULTIPLE Switchboard, a much more brain-twisting problem than the building of the Pyramids or the digging of the Panama Canal. The earlier types of switchboard had become too cumbersome by 1885. They were well enough for five hundred wires but not for five thousand. In some exchanges as many as half a dozen operators were necessary to handle a single call; and the clamor and confusion were becoming unbearable. Some handier and quieter way had to be devised, and thus arose the Multiple board. The first crude idea of such a way had sprung to life in the brain of a Chicago man named L. B. Firman, in 1879; but he became a farmer and forsook his invention in its infancy.
In the Multiple board, as it grew up under the hands of Scribner, the outgoing wires are duplicated so as to be within reach of every operator. A local call can thus be answered at once by the operator who receives it; and any operator who is overwhelmed by a sudden rush of business can be helped by her companions. Every wire that comes into the board is tasselled out into many ends, and by means of a "busy test," invented by Scribner, only one of these ends can be put into use at a time. The normal limit of such a board is ten thousand wires, and will always remain so, unless a race of long-armed giantesses should appear, who would be able to reach over a greater expanse of board. At present, a business of more than ten thousand lines means a second exchange.
The Multiple board was enormously expensive. It grew more and more elaborate until it cost one-third of a million dollars. The telephone men racked their brains to produce something cheaper to take its place, and they failed. The Multiple boards swallowed up capital as a desert swallows water, but THEY SAVED TEN SECONDS ON EVERY CALL. This was an unanswerable argument in their favor, and by 1887 twenty- one of them were in use.
Since then, the switchboard has had three or four rebuildings. There has seemed to be no limit to the demands of the public or the fertility of Scribner's brain. Persistent changes were made in the system of signalling. The first signal, used by Bell and Watson, was a tap on the diaphragm with the finger-nail. Soon after- wards came a "buzzer," and then the magneto- electric bell. In 1887 Joseph O'Connell, of Chicago, conceived of the use of tiny electric lights as signals, a brilliant idea, as an electric light makes no noise and can be seen either by night or by day. In 1901, J. J. Carty invented the "bridging bell," a way to put four houses on a single wire, with a different signal for each house. This idea made the "party line" practicable, and at once created a boom in the use of the telephone by enterprising farmers.
In 1896 there came a most revolutionary change in switchboards. All things were made new. Instead of individual batteries, one at each telephone, a large common battery was installed in the exchange itself. This meant better signalling and better talking. It reduced the cost of batteries and put them in charge of experts. It established uniformity. It introduced the federal idea into the mechanism of a telephone system. Best of all, it saved FOUR SECONDS ON EVERY CALL. The first of these centralizing switchboards was put in place at Philadelphia; and other cities followed suit as fast as they could afford the expense of rebuilding. Since then, there have come some switchboards that are wholly automatic. Few of these have been put into use, for the reason that a switchboard, like a human body, must be semi-automatic only. To give the most efficient service, there will always need to be an expert to stand between it and the public.
As the final result of all these varying changes in switchboards and signals and batteries, there grew up the modern Telephone Exchange. This is the solar plexus of the telephone body. It is the vital spot. It is the home of the switchboard. It is not any one's invention, as the telephone was. It is a growing mechanism that is not yet finished, and may never be; but it has already evolved far enough to be one of the wonders of the electrical world. There is probably no other part of an American city's equipment that is as sensitive and efficient as a telephone exchange.
The idea of the exchange is somewhat older than the idea of the telephone itself. There were communication exchanges before the invention of the telephone. Thomas B. Doolittle had one in Bridgeport, using telegraph instruments Thomas B. A. David had one in Pittsburg, using printing-telegraph machines, which required little skill to operate. And William A. Childs had a third, for lawyers only, in New York, which used dials at first and afterwards printing machines. These little exchanges had set out to do the work that is done to-day by the telephone, and they did it after a fashion, in a most crude and expensive way. They helped to prepare the way for the telephone, by building up small constituencies that were ready for the telephone when it arrived.
Bell himself was perhaps the first to see the future of the telephone exchange. In a letter written to some English capitalists in 1878, he said: "It is possible to connect every man's house, office or factory with a central station, so as to give him direct communication with his neighbors. . . . It is conceivable that cables of telephone wires could be laid underground, or suspended overhead, connecting by branch wires with private dwellings, shops, etc., and uniting them through the main cable with a central office." This remarkable prophecy has now become stale reading, as stale as Darwin's "Origin of Species," or Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." But at the time that it was written it was a most fanciful dream.
When the first infant exchange for telephone service was born in Boston, in 1877, it was the tiny offspring of a burglar-alarm business operated by E. T. Holmes, a young man whose father had originated the idea of protecting property by electric wires in 1858. Holmes was the first practical man who dared to offer telephone service for sale. He had obtained two telephones, numbers six and seven, the first five having gone to the junk-heap; and he attached these to a wire in his burglar-alarm office. For two weeks his business friends played with the telephones, like boys with a fascinating toy; then Holmes nailed up a new shelf in his office, and on this shelf placed six box-telephones in a row. These could be switched into connection with the burglar-alarm wires and any two of the six wires could be joined by a wire cord. Nothing could have been simpler, but it was the arrival of a new idea in the business world.
The Holmes exchange was on the top floor of a little building, and in almost every other city the first exchange was as near the roof as possible, partly to save rent and partly because most of the wires were strung on roof-tops. As the telephone itself had been born in a cellar, so the exchange was born in a garret. Usually, too, each exchange was an off-shoot of some other wire-using business. It was a medley of makeshifts. Almost every part of its outfit had been made for other uses. In Chicago all calls came in to one boy, who bawled them up a speaking- tube to the operators. In another city a boy received the calls, wrote them on white alleys, and rolled them to the boys at the switchboard. There was no number system. Every one was called by name. Even as late as 1880, when New York boasted fifteen hundred telephones, names were still in use. And as the first telephones were used both as transmitters and receivers, there was usually posted up a rule that was highly important: "Don't Talk with your Ear or Listen with your Mouth."
To describe one of those early telephone exchanges in the silence of a printed page is a wholly impossible thing. Nothing but a language of noise could convey the proper impression. An editor who visited the Chicago exchange in 1879 said of it: "The racket is almost deafening. Boys are rushing madly hither and thither, while others are putting in or taking out pegs from a central framework as if they were lunatics engaged in a game of fox and geese." In the same year E. J. Hall wrote from Buffalo that his exchange with twelve boys had become "a perfect Bedlam." By the clumsy methods of those days, from two to six boys were needed to handle each call. And as there was usually more or less of a cat-and- dog squabble between the boys and the public, with every one yelling at the top of his voice, it may be imagined that a telephone exchange was a loud and frantic place.
Boys, as operators, proved to be most com- plete and consistent failures. Their sins of omission and commission would fill a book. What with whittling the switchboards, swearing at subscribers, playing tricks with the wires, and roaring on all occasions like young bulls of Bashan, the boys in the first exchanges did their full share in adding to the troubles of the business. Nothing could be done with them. They were immune to all schemes of discipline. Like the MYSTERIOUS NOISES they could not be controlled, and by general consent they were abolished. In place of the noisy and obstreperous boy came the docile, soft-voiced girl.
If ever the rush of women into the business world was an unmixed blessing, it was when the boys of the telephone exchanges were superseded by girls. Here at its best was shown the influence of the feminine touch. The quiet voice, pitched high, the deft fingers, the patient courtesy and attentiveness--these qualities were precisely what the gentle telephone required in its attendants. Girls were easier to train; they did not waste time in retaliatory conversation; they were more careful; and they were much more likely to give "the soft answer that turneth away wrath."
A telephone call under the boy regime meant Bedlam and five minutes; afterwards, under the girl regime, it meant silence and twenty seconds. Instead of the incessant tangle and tumult, there came a new species of exchange--a quiet, tense place, in which several score of young ladies sit and answer the language of the switchboard lights. Now and then, not often, the signal lamps flash too quickly for these expert phonists. During the panic of 1907 there was one mad hour when almost every telephone in Wall Street region was being rung up by some desperate speculator. The switchboards were ablaze with lights. A few girls lost their heads. One fainted and was carried to the rest-room. But the others flung the flying shuttles of talk until, in a single exchange fifteen thousand conversations had been made possible in sixty minutes. There are always girls in reserve for such explosive occasions, and when the hands of any operator are seen to tremble, and she has a warning red spot on each cheek, she is taken off and given a recess until she recovers her poise.
These telephone girls are the human part of a great communication machine. They are weaving a web of talk that changes into a new pattern every minute. How many possible combinations there are with the five million telephones of the Bell System, or what unthinkable mileage of conversation, no one has ever dared to guess. But whoever has once seen the long line of white arms waving back and forth in front of the switchboard lights must feel that he has looked upon the very pulse of the city's life.
In 1902 the New York Telephone Company started a school, the first of its kind in the world, for the education of these telephone girls. This school is hidden amid ranges of skyscrapers, but seventeen thousand girls discover it in the course of the year. It is a most particular and exclusive school. It accepts fewer than two thousand of these girls, and rejects over fifteen thousand. Not more than one girl in every eight can measure up to its standards; and it cheerfully refuses as many students in a year as would make three Yales or Harvards.
This school is unique, too, in the fact that it charges no fees, pays every student five dollars a week, and then provides her with a job when she graduates. But it demands that every girl shall be in good health, quick-handed, clear-voiced, and with a certain poise and alertness of manner. Presence of mind, which, in Herbert Spencer's opinion, ought to be taught in every university, is in various ways drilled into the temperament of the telephone girl. She is also taught the knack of concentration, so that she may carry the switchboard situation in her head, as a chess- player carries in his head the arrangement of the chess-men. And she is much more welcome at this strange school if she is young and has never worked in other trades, where less speed and vigilance are required.
No matter how many millions of dollars may be spent upon cables and switchboards, the quality of telephone service depends upon the girl at the exchange end of the wire. It is she who meets the public at every point. She is the de- spatcher of all the talk trains; she is the ruler of the wire highways; and she is expected to give every passenger-voice an instantaneous express to its destination. More is demanded from her than from any other servant of the public. Her clients refuse to stand in line and quietly wait their turn, as they are quite willing to do in stores and theatres and barber shops and railway stations and everywhere else. They do not see her at work and they do not know what her work is. They do not notice that she answers a call in an average time of three and a half seconds. They are in a hurry, or they would not be at the telephone; and each second is a minute long. Any delay is a direct personal affront that makes a vivid impression upon their minds. And they are not apt to remember that most of the delays and blunders are being made, not by the expert girls, but by the careless people who persist in calling wrong numbers and in ignoring the niceties of telephone etiquette.
The truth about the American telephone girl is that she has become so highly efficient that we now expect her to be a paragon of perfection. To give the young lady her due, we must acknowledge that she has done more than any other person to introduce courtesy into the business world. She has done most to abolish the old-time roughness and vulgarity. She has made big business to run more smoothly than little business did, half a century ago. She has shown us how to take the friction out of conversation, and taught us refinements of politeness which were rare even among the Beau Brummels of pre-telephonic days. Who, for instance, until the arrival of the telephone girl, appreciated the difference between "Who are you?" and "Who is this?" Or who else has so impressed upon us the value of the rising inflection, as a gentler habit of speech? This propaganda of politeness has gone so far that to-day the man who is profane or abusive at the telephone, is cut off from the use of it. He is cast out as unfit for a telephone- using community.
And now, so that there shall be no anticlimax in this story of telephone development, we must turn the spot-light upon that immense aggregation of workshops in which have been made three-fifths of the telephone apparatus of the world--the Western Electric. The mother factory of this globe-trotting business is the biggest thing in the spacious back-yard of Chicago, and there are eleven smaller factories--her children--scattered over the earth from New York to Tokio. To put its totals into a sentence, it is an enterprise of 26,000-man-power, and 40,000,000-dollar-power; and the telephonic goods that it produces in half a day are worth one hundred thousand dollars--as much, by the way, as the Western Union REFUSED to pay for the Bell patents in 1877.
The Western Electric was born in Chicago, in the ashes of the big fire of 1871; and it has grown up to its present greatness quietly, without celebrating its birthdays. At first it had no telephones to make. None had been invented, so it made telegraphic apparatus, burglar-alarms, electric pens, and other such things. But in 1878, when the Western Union made its short-lived attempt to compete with the Bell Company, the Western Electric agreed to make its telephones. Three years later, when the brief spasm of competition was ended, the Western Electric was taken in hand by the Bell people and has since then remained the great workshop of the telephone.
The main plant in Chicago is not especially remarkable from a manufacturing point of view. Here are the inevitable lumber-yards and foundries and machine-shops. Here is the mad waltz of the spindles that whirl silk and cotton threads around the copper wires, very similar to what may be seen in any braid factory. Here electric lamps are made, five thousand of them in a day, in the same manner as elsewhere, except that here they are so small and dainty as to seem designed for fairy palaces,
The things that are done with wire in the Western Electric factories are too many for any mere outsider to remember. Some wire is wrapped with paper tape at a speed of nine thousand miles a day. Some is fashioned into fantastic shapes that look like absurd sea-monsters, but which in reality are only the nerve systems of switchboards. And some is twisted into cables by means of a dozen whirling drums--a dizzying sight, as each pair of drums revolve in opposite directions. Because of the fact that a cable's inevitable enemy is moisture, each cable is wound on an immense spool and rolled into an oven until it is as dry as a cinder. Then it is put into a strait-jacket of lead pipe, sealed at both ends, and trundled into a waiting freight car.
No other company uses so much wire and hard rubber, or so many tons of brass rods, as the Western Electric. Of platinum, too, which is more expensive than gold, it uses one thousand pounds a year in the making of telephone transmitters. This is imported from the Ural Mountains. The silk thread comes from Italy and Japan; the iron for magnets, from Norway; the paper tape, from Manila; the mahogany, from South America; and the rubber, from Brazil and the valley of the Congo. At least seven countries must cooperate to make a telephone message possible.
Perhaps the most extraordinary feature in the Western Electric factories is the multitude of its inspectors. No other sort of manufactur- ing, not even a Government navy-yard, has so many. Nothing is too small to escape these sleuths of inspection. They test every tiny disc of mica, and throw away nine out of ten. They test every telephone by actual talk, set up every switchboard, and try out every cable. A single transmitter, by the time it is completed, has had to pass three hundred examinations; and a single coin-box is obliged to count ten thousand nickels before it graduates into the outer world. Seven hundred inspectors are on guard in the two main plants at Chicago and New York. This is a ruinously large number, from a profit-making point of view; but the inexorable fact is that in a telephone system nothing is insignificant. It is built on such altruistic lines that an injury to any one part is the concern of all.
As usual, when we probe into the history of a business that has grown great and overspread the earth, we find a Man; and the Western Electric is no exception to this rule. Its Man, still fairly hale and busy after forty years of leadership, is Enos M. Barton. His career is the typical American story of self-help. He was a telegraph messenger boy in New York during the Civil War, then a telegraph operator in Cleveland. In 1869 his salary was cut down from one hundred dollars a month to ninety dollars; whereupon he walked out and founded the Western Electric in a shabby little machine-shop. Later he moved to Chicago, took in Elisha Gray as his partner, and built up a trade in the making of telegraphic materials.
When the telephone was invented, Barton was one of the sceptics. "I well remember my disgust," he said, "when some one told me it was possible to send conversation along a wire." Several months later he saw a telephone and at once became one of its apostles. By 1882 his plant had become the official workshop of the Bell Companies. It was the headquarters of invention and manufacturing. Here was gathered a notable group of young men, brilliant and adventurous, who dared to stake their futures on the success of the telephone. And always at their head was Barton, as a sort of human switchboard, who linked them all together and kept them busy.
In appearance, Enos M. Barton closely resembles ex-President Eliot, of Harvard. He is slow in speech, simple in manner, and with a rare sagacity in business affairs. He was not an organizer, in the modern sense. His policy was to pick out a man, put him in a responsible place, and judge him by results. Engineers could become bookkeepers, and bookkeepers could become engineers. Such a plan worked well in the earlier days, when the art of telephony was in the making, and when there was no source of authority on telephonic problems. Barton is the bishop emeritus of the Western Electric to-day; and the big industry is now being run by a group of young hustlers, with H. B. Thayer at the head of the table. Thayer is a Vermonter who has climbed the ladder of experience from its lower rungs to the top. He is a typical Yankee--lean, shrewd, tireless, and with a cold- blooded sense of justice that fits him for the leadership of twenty-six thousand people.
So, as we have seen, the telephone as Bell invented it, was merely a brilliant beginning in the development of the art of telephony. It was an elfin birth--an elusive and delicate sprite that had to be nurtured into maturity. It was like a soul, for which a body had to be created; and no one knew how to make such a body. Had it been born in some less energetic country, it might have remained feeble and undeveloped; but not in the United States. Here in one year it had become famous, and in three years it had become rich. Bell's invincible patent was soon buttressed by hundreds of others. An open- door policy was adopted for invention. Change followed change to such a degree that the experts of 1880 would be lost to-day in the mazes of a telephone exchange.
The art of the telephone engineer has in thirty years grown from the most crude and clumsy of experiments into an exact and comprehensive profession. As Carty has aptly said, "At first we invariably approached every problem from the wrong end. If we had been told to load a herd of cattle on a steamer, our method would have been to hire a Hagenbeck to train the cattle for a couple of years, so that they would know enough to walk aboard of the ship when he gave the signal; but to-day, if we had to ship cattle, we would know enough to make a greased chute and slide them on board in a jiffy."
The telephone world has now its own standards and ideals. It has a language of its own, a telephonese that is quite unintelligible to outsiders. It has as many separate branches of study as medicine or law. There are few men, half a dozen at most, who can now be said to have a general knowledge of telephony. And no matter how wise a telephone expert may be, he can never reach perfection, because of the amazing variety of things that touch or concern his profession.
"No one man knows all the details now," said Theodore Vail. "Several days ago I was walking through a telephone exchange and I saw something new. I asked Mr. Carty to explain it. He is our chief engineer; but he did not understand it. We called the manager. He did n't know, and called his assistant. He did n't know, and called the local engineer, who was able to tell us what it was."
To sum up this development of the art of tele- phony--to present a bird's-eye view--it may be divided into four periods:
1. Experiment. 1876 to 1886. This was the period of invention, in which there were no experts and no authorities. Telephonic apparatus consisted of makeshifts and adaptations. It was the period of iron wire, imperfect transmitters, grounded circuits, boy operators, peg switchboards, local batteries, and overhead lines.
2. Development. 1886 to 1896. In this period amateurs became engineers. The proper type of apparatus was discovered, and was improved to a high point of efficiency. In this period came the multiple switchboard, copper wire, girl operators, underground cables, metallic circuit, common battery, and the long-distance lines.
3. Expansion. 1896 to 1906. This was the era of big business. It was an autumn period, in which the telephone men and the public began to reap the fruits of twenty years of investment and hard work. It was the period of the message rate, the pay station, the farm line, and the private branch exchange.
4. Organization. 1906--. With the success of the Pupin coil, there came a larger life for the telephone. It became less local and more national. It began to link together its scattered parts. It discouraged the waste and anarchy of duplication. It taught its older, but smaller brother, the telegraph, to cooperate. It put itself more closely in touch with the will of the public. And it is now pushing ahead, along the two roads of standardization and efficiency, toward its ideal of one universal telephone system for the whole nation. The key-word of the telephone development of to-day is this-- organization.
- CHAPTER I - THE BIRTH OF THE TELEPHONE
- CHAPTER II - THE BUILDING OF THE BUSINESS
- CHAPTER III - THE HOLDING OF THE BUSINESS
- CHAPTER IV - THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ART
- CHAPTER V - THE EXPANSION OF THE BUSINESS
- CHAPTER VI - NOTABLE USERS OF THE TELEPHONE
- CHAPTER VII - THE TELEPHONE AND NATIONAL EFFICIENCY
- CHAPTER VIII - THE TELEPHONE IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
- CHAPTER IX - THE FUTURE OF THE TELEPHONE