The switchboard the operators used was a vertical panel with an array of jacks and a desk in front with a row of switches and two rows of plugs. Before automatic exchanges, assistance was required for anything but calls within a party line. Operators could listen to conversations. When a call was received, a jack lamp lit on the back panel and the operator placed a rear cord into the corresponding jack, threw the front key forward, and then had a conversation with the caller who told who he wanted to speak to. The operator then placed the front cord in the associated jack and pulled the front key backward to ring the party, leaving both cords “up” with the keys in normal position. The supervision lamps lit to alert the operator when the parties finished and their phones were on their hooks.