Many times each day you reach for the telephone on your desk at the office or in its familiar spot at home. It is an old and trusted friend. You scarcely give a thought to what it means to a busy day. Yet suppose the telephone were not there! Suppose—for a week—or a month —you could not call anybody by telephone and nobody could call you! The whole machinery of business and the home would be thrown out of gear.

Orders would be lost—efficiency and profits reduced. You would be out of touch with the world about you.

America needs quick, reliable, efficient telephone service to get things done in the brisk, up-to-the-minute American manner. And it enjoys the best service in the world.

Greater progress has been made in this country because of the Bell System’s one policy, one system and universal service.

America leads in telephone service. In relation to population, there are six times as many telephones in this country as in Europe and the telephone is used nine times as much.


“Joe took father’s shoe bench out. She was waiting at my lawn.”

If you were passing through the Bell Telephone Laboratories today you might hear an electrical mouth speaking this odd talk, or whistling a series of musical notes, to a telephone transmitter.

This mouth can be made to repeat these sounds without variation. Every new telephone transmitter is tested by this mouth before it receives a laboratory or manufacturing O.K. for your use.

This is only one of the many tests to which telephone equipment is subjected in the Bell Telephone Laboratories. And there is a reason for the selection of those particular words.

It happens that the sentence, “Joe took father’s shoe bench out,” and its more lyrical companion, “She was waiting at my lawn,” contain all the fundamental sounds of the English language that contribute to the intensity of sound in speech.

Busily at work in the interest of every one who uses the telephone is one of the largest research laboratories in the world. The outstanding development of the telephone in this country is proof of the value of this research. In times like these, the work of the Bell Telephone Laboratories becomes increasingly important.

The Bell System is doing its part in the country’s program of National Defense


Your Phone Dial Computes Your Bill (Feb, 1949)

Your Phone Dial Computes Your Bill

This new electrical brain now makes long-distance dialing possible.

PS photos by Hubert Luckett

ONE of the biggest obstacles to making long-distance telephone calls without speaking to an operator has been overcome: a machine has been built to see that you are properly charged for such calls. It’s a gigantic electrical contrivance that remembers what numbers you have called and how long you talked.

Your dial will operate it. The first such machine, called an AMA (for Automatic Message Accounting), is in use now at Philadelphia. Since it takes a long time to build and install such machines and the other equipment, it may be a long time before your phone is connected to such a device.

The AMA now at work can keep track of 100 calls at once, and even disregards local calls from phones with flat-rate service.

The system, developed at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York, actually consists of two machines—one in the Philadelphia suburb of Media, one downtown.

When somebody in Media dials a message-rate or toll call, AMA assigns that call a code number and then punches holes in a paper tape for the code, the calling number, and the number called. When the conversation starts and when it ends, AMA records the month, day, and exact time.

The second machine, pictured here and on the next page, later reads the tape, sorting out the record of each call from hundreds of others, and types out a report.

Telephone Holder Is Curved To Fit Contour of Shoulder (Jul, 1948)

Telephone Holder Is Curved To Fit Contour of Shoulder
Leaving both hands free, a telephone holder designed to fit the contour of the shoulder balances the instrument perfectly in talking position. The three-point suspension holds the handset so securely that typing is possible during a conversation. The holder snaps on in five seconds and does not have to be removed to place the instrument in its cradle.

Telephone Device Audibly Announces Exact Time (Apr, 1934)

Telephone Device Audibly Announces Exact Time
DESIGNED primarily to reply to thousands of daily requests received by telephone exchanges for the correct time, a machine invented by John W. Wells, of Stockton, Calif., audibly announces the exact time at three second intervals. The device uses less than 20 feet of movie film to record a 24-hour cycle of hours and minutes.
The sound waves are transformed from the film by a scanning optic and a photo-electric cell which travels the length of the film and returns every six seconds. The time is announced in hours and minutes at every trip of the scanning unit.

New Phone Rings Loud or Soft (Jun, 1949)

New Phone Rings Loud or Soft
THERE’S a new telephone on the way that will let you control the loudness of its ring. And at whatever volume you adjust it to, the ringing tone will be both lower-pitched and more resonant than that of your present phone. For easier dialing, the numbers and letter prefixes are placed outside the finger wheel. Another feature is an “equalizer” that automatically adjusts the voice sound level to compensate for the difference in distance between each telephone and the central office.
The phone’s handset—transmitter, receiver, and handgrip—is slightly smaller than
earlier models, weighs 25 percent less, and is designed for a more comfortable head fit. The new instrument, developed by Bell, is still undergoing tests. Some trial installations will be made this year, but regular production, by Western Electric, will not get under way until late 1950.

Ad: An intrstng exprmnt in spch (Apr, 1956)

Yes, at Bell Labs we’ve been disemvoweling you since 1956!

An intrstng exprmnt
in spch

Some day your voice may travel by a sort of electronic “shorthand” when you telephone. Bell Laboratories scientists are experimenting with a technique in which a sample is snipped off a speech sound —just enough to identify it—and sent by wire to a receiver which rebuilds the original sound. Thus voices can be sent by means of fewer signals. More voices may economically share the wires.
This is but one of many transmission techniques that Laboratories scientists are exploring in their search for ways to make Bell System wire and radio channels serve you more efficiently. It is another example of the Bell Telephone Laboratories research that keeps your telephone the most advanced on earth. The oscilloscope traces at right show how the shorthand technique works.
World center of communications research Largest industrial laboratory in the United States

The WHITE HOUSE Talks to the WORLD (Jan, 1938)

Amazing! If the President wants to talk to an admiral at Pearl Harbor the call can be connected in under 10 minutes!

The WHITE HOUSE Talks to the WORLD

WHAT might properly be called the “number one” telephone in the nation is listed in the Washington phone book as National 1414. This is the official home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Better served is he by telephone than any other person in the world. Better by far than any President we’ve ever had.

At any moment, day or night, Mr. Roosevelt can select any one of 150 phones and talk with friends, official emissaries of our government, in fact, anybody in almost any nation in the world. Sixty different countries are now linked by telephone service. These countries have an aggregate of over thirty million telephones, according to official estimates, of which some eighteen million are on the North American continent and over ten million in Europe.

Rubber Telephone Cord Stretches (Apr, 1935)

Rubber Telephone Cord Stretches
A BAND of gum rubber, woven between the wires in the center of a telephone cord, gives it an elasticity which permits a stretch of four feet on a cord originally only one foot long.
Small wires are packed into the rubber center like a spring to coil when released. Said to be equally as durable as the conventional cloth wrapped cords, the new type can be extended to four times its original length.

Craftsman Earns Living Making Gold and Silver Telephones (Mar, 1935)

Craftsman Earns Living Making Gold and Silver Telephones

PORTER BLANCHARD, Los Angeles inventor, takes a great delight in beautifying the more simple household articles found in every home and has even gone so far as to produce telephones from silver and gold at a total cost of $500 each.
The phones, of the ordinary French type are entirely taken apart and dipped into an electroplating solution. Current is passed through the solution to plate the various telephone parts.
Several times during the process, the parts are removed and polished to a glossy smooth finish to insure an even result. The plating is about the thickness of paper.