“Ever Seen Your Telephone Switchboard?” (May, 1939)

This is pretty damn cool. I would have loved to take a tour of my local switchboard.

“Ever Seen Your Telephone Switchboard?”

It’s a fascinating sight — the inside of a telephone central office where your telephone may be connected with the whole Bell System.

Would you like to know more about the telephone and what happens when you make a call?

Your Bell Telephone Company will be glad to show you. Visitors are welcome and we believe you will have a most interesting time. Why not call the Business Office and arrange a visit?

BELL TELEPHONE SYSTEM
You are cordially invited to visit the Bell System exhibit at Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco

11 comments
  1. Rick Auricchio says: March 22, 200810:13 am

    The previous comment sure smells like spam.

  2. nlpnt says: March 22, 20085:16 pm

    THINGS TO DO:
    1. Call phone company to see if offer still applies.
    2. Buy a can of Spam, refresh my memory as to what it smells like.

  3. Stannous says: March 22, 20089:02 pm

    There’s a room at my local San Francisco AT&T office that I’d like to take a peek at but I’m not holding my breath:
    http://www.wired.com/sc…

  4. Repack Rider says: March 22, 200810:39 pm

    When I was a kid in the ’50s, the big telephone building was just a block away from my elementary school, a convenient field trip. I went several times.

  5. nlpnt says: March 23, 20083:45 pm

    Repack Rider; Are you by any chance from Burlington, Vt.? Verizon still has the old phone company building across the street from Edmunds School.

  6. Eric Smith says: March 23, 20084:14 pm

    Way back I had the good fortune to tour Ma Bell’s switch in Dranesville, VA. All electro-mechanical relays at the time, a whole gymnasium sized room full of racks of ticking relays. Everything it did then probably now fits in a pizza box. Wonder what they’ve done with all the rest of that space.

  7. Repack Rider says: March 23, 200811:33 pm

    I lived in California then and now. I’m sure such centers existed in every good sized city, and ours was conveniently located near the school.

  8. BlindPoet says: March 28, 20086:49 am

    I had an aunt and a cousin who worked for Ma Bell as switchboard operators when I was a child. I loved going to visit them at work and watching them plug in the cables to connect calls…it was absolutely fascinating to a five-year-old. (And–RETCH!–I DO remember what SPAM smells like!)

  9. Chris J says: April 10, 20083:54 pm

    I worked in the NJ state prison for 24 years starting in 1981. The first few years we had one of the OLD style switchboards. The officers had to know how to work it for after hours. What a blast it was when someone called for a supervisor and if he didn’t pick up we could just lean on the ringer switch! Good times, fond memories.

  10. Phonedoc says: November 12, 200811:24 am

    Remember as a boy of 3 or 4 being left at the Post Office while my mum went shopping. Three ladies Sheila, Margaret and Jean
    would be on duty on the local switchboard. Was very interested in the flashing lights and strange noises coming from the equipment.
    When the switchboard wasn’t that busy my favourite lady Sheila would lift me onto her seat. While watching the lights go off and on,
    she put a spare lightweight headset on my head so I could listen to conversations. It was all very memorably but sadly missed.
    I have taken a deep interest in telephony and wrote a thesis on the Design and Implementation of the Telephone Kiosk in North London.

  11. jim m says: June 18, 200910:07 am

    I have a old switch board and might sell it if anyone is interested, I can send pictures, thanks

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