History of the Telephone Workers, Part 4

Posted on September 6, 2020

by Mary Hedge

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.

Mary Hedge

Mary Hedge

Mary is a Public Services Librarian. She enjoys helping people find the information they need, including family and local history searches. Also, she serves as the director of READ La Porte County, Inc., plays the organ for a church, and enjoys traveling.
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